Latin American Declaratory Regionalism: An Analysis of Presidential Discourse (1994-2014)
25 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 2015
If the idea of an integrated Latin America goes back to the early post-colonial days, the story of political and economic integration in Latin America is relatively quickly told. The attempts have been numerous, but in terms of policy outcomes and deep integration for the benefit of a regional public good, regionalism in Latin America has not lived up to the stated aims of its governments. The present paper takes a first step to examine the practice of referring to Latin America in the political discourse, a phenomenon that we term declaratory regionalism to denote its independence from substantial forms of regionalism. We analyse the use of declarationism in presidential speeches delivered on an annual basis to the UN General Assembly in two steps. First, we discuss a series of descriptive illustrations in light of existing scholarship on Latin American international relations. Subsequently, several hypotheses for why governments keep referring to the region while not necessarily privileging it in their foreign policy strategies are put to a test. While not offering a conclusive explanation, the results point to leftist ideology as a crucial factor in explaining the persistence of discursive regionalism at the UN General Assembly. The paper posits that future research is likely to benefit from conceiving Latin Americanism as a characteristic of leftist ideology.
Keywords: Latin America, regionalism, discursive practice
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