Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

What Can We Conclude From the Cartagena Summit?

By Ludovico Feoli

A lot of hand wringing and snickering is going on in the press about the inability to reach any agreements during the hemispheric conference held in Cartagena last week. Aside from questioning the value of these forums beyond their photo opportunities and grandstanding platforms for the most vocal, it may be useful to consider the larger lessons that the summit suggests. Above all, it reflects a very different region in a very different world than existed when the hemispheric meetings were launched in 1994.

A different region. During the 1990s, Latin America was emerging from its “lost decade” and still transitioning to open markets and democracy. Today, the region is recognized for its steady economic growth, having weathered the Great Recession better than most, and, despite exceptions, its consolidated democracies. During the 1990s few, if any, of the countries in the region could aspire to global leadership. Today, the world is looking at and following the examples of innovation in social policies and participatory democracy that have emerged from the region. Brazil, thought by many to have finally come of age, vies openly for a seat in a reconfigured UN Security Council. Most poignantly, the summit host, Colombia, was hostage to drug cartels and counterinsurgency in the 1990s. Today, the country enjoys renewed levels of security, economic growth, and its cities are touted as examples of urban revival. Mexico has become a predominantly middle class society, and poverty and inequality have fallen throughout the region, almost without exception. Tellingly, in the United States these trends have been inverted and the country appears beleaguered by economic and political problems.

A different world. Overextension in international conflicts, growing inequality, political polarization, financial crisis, high unemployment and growing public debt have contributed, among a host of other factors, to cast a pall over the global leadership of the United States. The European Union, beset by regional inequality, towering debt and sluggish growth, is also seen as declining. Meanwhile, the G-8 has become the G-20, recognizing the growing weight of emerging countries in global affairs. Most notably, China has surpassed Japan as the second largest economy in the world and is challenging the US lead as a global trader and investor. Indeed, many Latin American countries now have greater trade with China than with the US, and China has embarked on a quest to spread its soft power regionally, building stadiums and buying up sovereign debt throughout the Americas. While the US is still important to the region, the underlying basis of its relationship is changing. It is no longer the only kid in town.

President Obama has recognized this, at least rhetorically. He describes his approach towards the region as a partnership among equals. With regard to the drug trade, he speaks of shared responsibility, given US demand for narcotics and easy access to guns, and he acknowledges the need to consider alternatives that focus on demand reduction and harm mitigation. With regard to Cuba, he facilitated travel and remittances to the island, and opened some areas of investment. With regard to immigration, he recognizes the contribution of migrants to the US economy and speaks of the importance of comprehensive reform. Yet, in these key areas there is little or no change, even as longstanding policies–the war against drugs, the embargo against Cuba, and the immigration regime–are considered to have failed. Despite some adjustments at the administrative level, the prospects for deeper reform are slight in the current electoral and highly polarized political environment. Obama’s regional policies will remain hostage to domestic politics even if he strikes all the right notes and takes the appropriate stance at regional summits.

Yet, the lack of accord at the summit reveals much more than acrimony against the US and its policies. It suggests that the region is also divided within itself: there is no regional consensus about what the solutions to critical problems should be. Take the drug trade. While much was made about US opposition to legalization, the Central American nations, battered more than most of the region by drug-related violence and corruption, could not agree on a unified stance in a meeting of their regional secretariat (SICA) the day before the Cartagena meeting. While Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica seem amenable to decriminalization, Nicaragua and El Salvador oppose it. Or take Cuba. While its absence from the summits is an easy foil to bash the US, few would escape the charge of cynicism if they somehow had to square that with their support for the Democratic Charter.

The broader lesson to be drawn from the lack of consensus at the Summit is that regional collective action has become more challenging. As the hemispheric hegemon has receded in dominance so has its encompassing interest in providing regional public goods. It is likely to continue doing so to a certain degree, but not in any way that deviates significantly from its narrower national interest. As an example of this, the US focus has shifted from multilateralism to a sharper focus on the most relevant actors. Under the circumstances, as no regional power is likely to become predominant to the point of hegemony, it is unreasonable to expect far-ranging regional accords. Even if the gulf in real power separating them from the US remains significant, emerging powers will tend to be more assertive, balancing against each other and the US, and this will lessen the chances for regional consensus. Regional policy and regional integration will advance in fits and starts.


  • Ludovico Feoli

    Executive Director - Center for Inter-American Policy & Research





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Why Marronage Still Matters: Lecture with Dr. Neil Roberts

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What is the opposite of freedom? Dr. Neil Roberts answers this question with definitive force: slavery, and from there he unveils powerful new insights on the human condition as it has been understood between these poles. Crucial to his investigation is the concept ofmarronage—a form of slave escape that was an important aspect of Caribbean and Latin American slave systems. Roberts examines the liminal and transitional space of slave escape to develop a theory of freedom as marronage, which contends that freedom is fundamentally located within this space.In this lecture, Roberts will explore how what he calls the “post-Western” concept and practice of marronage—of flight—bears on our world today.

This event is sponsored by the Kathryn B. Gore Chair in French Studies, Department of French and Italian.
For more information contact Ryan Joyce at or Fayçal Falaky at

Newcomb Art Museum to host María José de la Macorra and Eric Peréz for Gallery Talk

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Join us at the Newcomb Art Museum in welcoming Mexican artists María José de la Macorra and Eric Peréz for a noontime gallery talk as they discuss the current exhibition Clay in Transit: Contemporary Mexican Ceramics (which features works by María José de la Macorra) and the focus and process of their work. The talk is free and open to the public.

The Newcomb Art Museum is featuring two ceramic exhibitions entitled Clay in Transit featuring contemporary Mexican ceramics and Clay in Place featuring Newcomb pottery and guild plus other never-before-exhibited pieces from the permanent collection.The exhibit presents the work of seven Mexican-born sculptors who bridge the past and present by creating contemporary pieces using an ancient medium. The exhibit will feature works by Ana Gómez, Saúl Kaminer, Perla Krauze, María José Lavín, María José de la Macorra, Gustavo Pérez, Paloma Torres.

Exhibition curator and artist Paloma Torres explains, “In this contemporary moment, clay is a borderline. It is a material that has played a critical role in the development of civilization: early man used clay not only to represent spiritual concerns but also to hold food and construct homes.” While made of a primeval material, the exhibited works nonetheless reflect the artists’ twenty-first-century aesthetics and concerns as well as their fluency in diverse media—from painting and drawing to video, graphic design, and architecture.

The exhibit will run from January 18, 2018, through March 24, 2018. For more information on the exhibit and the artists, please visit the Newcomb Art Museum’s website.

Clay in Transit is presented in collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico.

The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Jennifer Wooster (NC ’91), Lora & Don Peters (A&S ’81), Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University, Andrew and Eva Martinez, and the Newcomb Art Museum advisory board

Bate Papo! Practice your Portuguese and enjoy some Brazilian treats: kibe

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Bate Papo! Try a bit of Brazil’s Middle Eastern flavor with these kibe treats. This event is sponsored by TULASO and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. Admission is free. All levels welcome. For more information, please contact Megwen at

Loyola University to host talk by Ward Churchill on Indigenism in North America

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Loyola University is excited to welcome acclaimed activist-intellectual Ward Churchill, author of the new book Wielding Words like Weapons: Selected Essays in Indigenism, 1995–2005 and 30 Year Anniversary edition of Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America.

Ward will give an explanation of indigenism, moving from there to the concepts of the Fourth World and the three-legged stool of classic, internal, and settler-state colonialism. He will discuss historical and ongoing genocide of North America’s native peoples and the systematic distortion of the political and legal history of U.S.-Indian relations.

A prolific American Indian scholar/activist, Ward Churchill is a founding member of the Rainbow Council of Elders, and longtime member of the leadership council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. In addition to his numerous works on indigenous history, he has written extensively on U.S. foreign policy and the repression of political dissent, including the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. Five of his more than 20 books have received human rights awards.

Please contact Nathan Henne ( for additional information.

Sponsored by
The Loyola Latin American Studies Program
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Loyola
The Department of Language and Cultures
The Department of English

Bate Papo! Practice your Portuguese and enjoy some Brazilian treats: bolo de aipim

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Bate Papo! Drop by the LBC mezzanine floor for a slice of manioc sponge cake. We will be spread out across the green couches so come by to take a load off and chat for a bit. This event is sponsored by TULASO and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. Admission is free. All levels welcome. For more information, please contact Megwen at

Bate Papo! Practice your Portuguese and enjoy some Brazilian treats: Romeo & Julieta

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Bate Papo! Join us once again in the LBC mezzanine area to sample the most romantic treat in all of Brazil: Romeo & Julieta. Never heard of it? Come give it a try! It is like nothing you’ve ever tasted before… This event is sponsored by TULASO and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. Admission is free. All levels welcome. For more information, please contact Megwen at