Renaud Lambert – Le Monde Diplomatique, 06/28/2013
João Paulo Rodrigues and Rubens Barbosa seem to have little in common: Rodrigues has been involved in the Brazilian Landless Peasants Movement (MST) since childhood; Barbosa was Brazil’s ambassador to the UK, then the US, from 1994 to 2004, and is now a consultant. I met Rodrigues at a small house in São Paolo; Barbosa’s offices are on the very chic Brigadeiro Faria Lima Avenue, where helicopters ferry chief executives between skyscrapers. Rodrigues had just been leading a training session for MST activists; Barbosa managed to “take a few minutes out” between calls from clients who wanted to know about the terms of a government tender — presumably ahead of everyone else (that’s what it sounded like to me).
But these men sometimes agree in what they say. When Rodrigues talks about MST’s political aims — “overthrowing neoliberalism and building a fairer economic system” — he identifies regional integration as a priority. Barbosa dreams of Brazil “transforming its geography into a political reality”. He sees Latin America as “Brazil’s backyard, the natural territory of Brazilian businesses” (1). He too identified a priority: “defending our own interests” and reinforcing the process of regional integration.
Since the Great Liberator, Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), dreamed of unity, there have been many attempts to promote collaboration between Latin American countries and further their integration into a larger entity, bringing different countries together depending on the ultimate goal — independence in the 19th century, regional industrialisation after the second world war, neoliberal alignment in the 1990s.