The Latin Link Revives
The love affair between Europe and South America is advancing. In May, all 25 heads of state of the European Union and the leaders of the 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries met in Guadalajara, Mexico, for the third summit in five years between these two national blocs. The primary goals of the summit were to progress social and cultural cohesion and to move forward transatlantic integration.
This first foreign-policy summit of the newly expanded EU reeked of the old European-Catholic heritage that historically has linked these two continental regions together. What was its real significance? The answer is bound within the pages of history and biblical prophecy.
Failure of Democracy
Following decolonization in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Latin America endured decades of rule by dictatorial regimes. But during the closing decades of the 20th century, Latin America underwent a startling change. The whole continent began flirting with Western-style democracy.
A resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Mark Falcoff, described this unusual phenomenon thus: “The shift was drastic and in many ways historically unprecedented. With the notable exception of Castro’s Cuba, every country in the [Latin American] region has now been governed by civilians chosen through universal suffrage” (Commentary, July-August 2004). All of the 21 mainland countries within South and Central America and Mexico, by popular demand, changed their systems of governance from classic post-colonial dictatorships to systems modeled on Western-style democracy. Yet this “democracy” had shallow roots.
That the proximity of the massive First World market of the United States to the north had significant bearing on this move goes without question. That the populations of these countries saw the promise of more equitable distribution of income, of heightened standards of living, of a lot in life far better than that enjoyed under former, often rapaciously self-serving dictators was most evident in influencing the popular swing to government by elected officials. The problem is, after two decades of the leaders in this region paying lip service to democracy, the rich are still rich and getting richer, and the poor often still poor and getting poorer.
Last June, the World Bank’s chief economist for Latin America, Guillermo Perry, presented a report that revealed some of the startling results of deeply entrenched inefficiencies in the Latino economies. The figures revealed that Latin America exhibits the greatest social inequality in the world. Perry’s report demonstrated that Latin America is 20 percent more unequal in terms of the distribution of income than the developed nations and 15 percent more unequal than Asia.
The fact is, Latin America, under the past two decades of “democratic” government, has simply lacked the political will to undertake the difficult structural reforms necessary to change the course of its endemically weak economies.
Set Up for Disappointment
To be sure, the region had been given false hopes by some on both sides of the Rio Grande. There was a lot of hoopla about a new era for U.S. and Latin American relations following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This bred a whole generation of Latino political leaders, economists and bureaucrats schooled at U.S. universities, wedded to the ways of the free market.
The main idea was to attach Latino economies to the great U.S. freight train via free-trade agreements. Thus, negotiated by the U.S. with Canada and Mexico in the early 1990s, the North American Free Trade Agreement (nafta) was born. Soon after, following the December 1994 Summit of the Americas in Miami, Florida, 34 countries committed to creating a Free Trade Area of the Americas. U.S. President Bill Clinton promised that Chile would be included in nafta within a year of the conclusion of that summit. Optimism abounded, the assumption being that, following Chile’s entrance into nafta, other Latino countries would be granted speedy entrance.
It didn’t happen.
Only one week after the Latin American heads of state left the Miami summit with a spring in their step, the Mexican peso collapsed. The result was disastrous for U.S.-Latin American trade relations. Texas-based think tank Stratfor summed up the resultant situation: “The Mexican peso crisis of 1995 rocked Latin America. Then came the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the 1998 Russian crisis, the 1999 Brazilian crisis and Argentina’s default on close to $100 billion in government bonds at the end of 2001. From 1997 through 2003, economic growth stagnated in most Latin American countries. Poverty and unemployment rose to 20-year highs. Social inequality worsened, per capita incomes plummeted and corruption spread with pandemic speed. By the time Argentina defaulted in 2001, most Latin Americans were disenchanted with the economic policies Washington endorsed during the preceding decade” (March 12).
The upshot of all this was more political change. Anti-U.S. populist leaders in Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador replaced reformist regimes.
In the meantime, seemingly pro-U.S. presidentes in countries like Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Guatemala and El Salvador are even now confronting spreading discontent that restricts any initiatives to implement more free-market reforms.
Winds of Change
All this portends a sea change in relationships between the U.S. and its closest continental neighbors. “Latin American rhetoric is growing shriller, and recent surveys show a steep rise in anti-U.S. sentiment and flagging support for democracy. These are good times for populist leaders. They can blame their countries’ woes on free-market policies, globalization and the United States” (ibid.).
Beyond the anti-U.S. rhetoric, the reality that confronts most Latin American countries, with the possible exception of Chile, is economics. New populist governments have shown little ability to confront the deep structural problems attached to their rotten economic foundations. The combined indebtedness of the entire hemispheric region of Latin America and the Caribbean exceeds $775 billion. Studies indicate that the region requires somewhere between $500 billion and $1 trillion of investment in basic economic infrastructure over the next 15 years. Where will the required investment come from? Obviously not the United States.
At a congressional hearing on February 11, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the administration would trim its foreign-policy budget in Latin America because the U.S. has “greater priorities of a more serious nature” (ibid.). It’s true that the prime concern of U.S. foreign policy is the global war on terror. It is biting deep into the administration’s budgets. But one could be forgiven for theorizing another more fundamental reason for the Bush administration going cold on America’s Latino neighbors: nafta has simply not worked. It was never really going to work. Matching the historical perspective with inerrant biblical prophecy not only proves the inevitability of its failure—but of the rise of the trade regime that is prophesied to replace it! (Revelation 18:1-3).
NAFTA’s Failure—EU’s Opportunity
nafta has been a flop on almost every count. The U.S. failure to address numerous issues among nafta’s three existing members (Canada, Mexico and the U.S.) has stalled any efforts to expand nafta into anything like the Free Trade Area of the Americas once envisioned.
Enter the European Union.
The EU, already having a free-trade agreement (fta) with Mexico, has been negotiating an fta with the South American Mercosur customs union (comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) over the past five years. This is but the thin edge of a wedge that is destined to powerfully fracture U.S.-Latin American relations. In fact, the EU even admits that this is its clear aim. The driving forces at the moment are Brazil and Berlin. Though not widely publicized, the German attitude toward undermining U.S. policy toward Latin America has been evident for some time.
Taking the lead, Germany has wormed its way increasingly into positions of influence in Latin America. Playing the role of mediator between separatist organizations, it is able to influence the replacement of governments that are not attuned to the EU’s aims. Various front organizations aid the implementation of the German-led EU. These include the European Center for Minority Issues, departments of the Bertelsmann Institute and the Institute for Human Rights.
A prime example of Germany’s interference in domestic affairs of Latino countries, contrary to U.S. foreign policy initiatives, is its relationship with Colombia. The Web-based German Foreign Policy group reported a year ago that the German parliament had approved an 18-point plan to insert Berlin’s influence within Colombia’s domestic policies. Germany’s goal in the short term is to penetrate the country via the establishment and development of German corporate interests. Germany has been at work on this front for some time: “The German care for ‘human rights’ in Central and South America is flanked by a steadily advancing economic penetration of the subcontinent. Large German corporations use the cheap labor force … to create competition for the U.S. along its southern border” (www.german-foreign-policy.com, Sept. 6, 2001).
German Foreign Policy reported in May 2002 that, in a move seen by U.S. analysts as a new “solidarity” against Washington’s interests in Latin America, the ruling coalition in Germany brought a resolution before the Bundestag seeking intensified cooperation between Germany and the region. During the debate, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder demanded “a markedly enlarged exchange of trade with the markets of the future in South America” (ibid., May 30, 2002). This source further reported that spokesmen of all parties during the debate agreed that “German foreign policy must urge the other EU states to free the Latin American continent from economic dependency and the political and military dominance of the United States ….”
Since German unification in 1990, Germany’s trade with Latin America has doubled. European Union investment has doubled over the same period. The EU ranks currently as the most important investor in South America, having forged way ahead of the U.S. The EU imports five times more from Mercosur than from the U.S. In the 1990s, trade between these two blocs grew at a whopping 125 percent right under North America’s nose!
So what is really happening in the region of Latin America?
Cycle of History
Mexico and Central and South America are the closest southern neighbors to the United States. Yet in so many ways, this is the most neglected of regions within U.S. foreign policy. How is it that an economic and political union of nation-states clear across the Atlantic can exert such positive influence on Latin America that it stands ready to conclude the greatest free-trade association on the globe? That is what is on the cards for this October. What is the EU up to?
The Economist claims that the EU has a Machiavellian ambition. “If the EU’s gambit pays off, it will have stolen a march … on the United States, which has been trying to launch a Free Trade Area of the Americas for years, without much success” (April 19). If the EU, pushed by the consistent and careful penetration of Latin American industry and institutions by Germany over the decades since World War ii, succeeds in concluding its deal with Mercosur in October, it will have achieved, as EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy has claimed, “nothing less than the biggest free-trade area between two regional entities in the world” (European Report, June 16).
The issues of historical heritage and culture run deep within all negotiations that are building the connection between the EU and Latin America. German leadership is very conscious of this fact. European Commissioner Dr. Franz Fischler, addressing a seminar on EU-Mercosur relations in Buenos Aires in April, declared, “This opportunity to boost our historical and cultural trade ties might last a few months; the benefits that we could secure with a deal however, would last many years …” (Commission of the European Communities, rapid, April 29).
The Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear has claimed, “We definitely share more values with Europe. … [T]here is a strong European influence all over Latin America—not the least because of German immigrants. We simply feel very close to Europe” (see sidebar, page 9; emphasis mine).
What is emerging as a result of the EU’s trade and humanitarian efforts in Latin America has more to do with the extension of the EU’s empire than just a simple free-trade deal. This is a repetition of history. It is simply ancient mother Europa, led politically by her old protector Germany and culturally by the religion of Rome, returning to claim her cache of primary resources with which to feed the furnaces of her final resurrection to power. Sound far-fetched? Only to those ignorant of the cycles of history and the reality of biblical prophecy.
For decades, from the 1930s through to his death in January 1986, Herbert W. Armstrong pointed to the prophesied inevitability of the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire. We have consistently proven through the pages of this magazine that the European Union is that final resurrection in process of occurring. In the book of Revelation, the prophetic Scripture reveals that this old empire will once again trade in slaves (Revelation 18:13). With remarkable foresight, Mr. Armstrong was able to see the present linkage of Europe and Latin America and predict what it would mean for the Anglo-Americans in the not-too-distant future.
Pointing to Ezekiel’s prophecy of the destruction of America and Britain due to their moral depravity and mass rebellion against God in these days, Mr. Armstrong highlighted the prophecy that barely a third of the populations of these nations would remain (Ezekiel 5:1-2). But of that third he then showed what is revealed in prophecy through Ezekiel, and related it to events happening in our day: “And that surviving third will be uprooted from their homes—transported like cattle as slaves to Europe, and probably some to South America (the Germans are fast gaining dominance and control in South America).”
Mr. Armstrong wrote that clear back in 1956! That was almost 50 years ago! Today we see the move afoot to weld together the greatest trading entity on the planet joining the European Union to the region of Latin America, of which South America is the major component. That connection is founded upon a historic political and economic relationship born of a strong cultural and religious affiliation. You need to know much more about this phenomenon. It could become reality by October this year should the projected joining of the EU and Mercosur countries go forward as planned.
One thing is for sure. It will happen! The old imperial Roman connection with Latin America will revive! You need to be aware of the huge impact that this is destined to have on your life! Write now for your free copy of The Rising Beast and begin to prepare to avoid the horrendous consequences of that event.