Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Throughout his tenure, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela carried out an ideological political vision of resistance to United States political and economic hegemony in Latin America. Due to Venezuela's large political and economic influence in Latin America, Chavez's administration has repeatedly thwarted efforts by the United States government and American corporations to maintain their economic dominance in the region. Venezuela's antagonistic foreign policies over the last decade have resulted in an opening up of an autonomous policy space in Latin and Central America and presented a serious pushback to United States political and corporate presence in Latin America.

With Venezuela's full acceptance into the Common Market of The South ("Mercosur") in July 31, 2012, and its current pro tempore presidency since July 15, 2013, its decadelong anti-neoliberal policies and efforts to decrease United States economic hegemony in the region may have found a new venue. Venezuela is likely to expand the original purpose of Mercosur: First, by enlarging its scope from that of a free-trade regional framework for economic integration into one also concerned with social and political integration, and second, to be used as a tool to further diminish United States economic interests in Latin America. Although, after Hugo Chavez's death, Venezuela's government is currently being run by his former vice president Nicolds Maduro, its policy of resisting United States economic and political presence in the region is likely to continue because Maduro espouses the same 21st Century socialist ideology as his predecessor.

The purpose of this note is to understand the extent to which the Venezuelan government intends to use Mercosur as a vehicle to further its political and economic resistance against United States political and economic/corporate interests. A brief observation will also be made regarding the extent to which the other members of Mercosur will aid or resist Venezuela: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Ecuador.

This inquiry into Venezuela's intentions in regard to Mercosur will be placed within the context of Venezuela's policies of resistance to United States interests over the last decade. Past United States efforts throughout the 20th century to maintain or increase hegemony in Latin America will be recounted to provide historical background. In particular, the policies of the Monroe Doctrine and the Roosevelt Corollary, President Ronald Reagan's policies of containment of socialism in Latin America, and lastly, the Bush administration's most recent efforts to push back the "pink tide" spreading across Latin America are relevant.