"Brazil with Dilma Rousseff and Venezuela without Chávez: A New Regional Balance?"
A roundtable discussion sponsored by the Rio Branco Chair in the International Relations of Brazil, Brazilian Studies Programme, Latin American Centre
Dr Matias Spektor (Associate Professor at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, Rio de Janeiro and current Rio Branco Chair in International Relations at King´s College London). He is a columnist for the newspaper Folha de São Paulo. He has been a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, the Council of Foreign Relations and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. His main research interest is Brazilian foreign policy.
Dr Andrés Malamud - research fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the European University Institute (Florence) and specializes in comparative regional integration, EU Studies and Latin American politics.
Dr Leslie E. Wehner - research fellow at GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies. His areas of research interests are theories of international relations and foreign policy analysis especially role theory with a focus on the foreign policies of Latin American countries. He also works on topics of regional security and trade cooperation in Latin America, especially on the dynamics of institutional overlapping between regional groups.
Prof Miriam Gomes Saraiva - Associate Professor at the International Relations Department at the State University of Rio de Janeiro and researcher of the National Research Council (CNP1) of Brazil. She is currently Rio Branco Chair in International Relations at the Latin American Centre. She works on foreign policy and regional issues, with an emphasis on Brazilian foreign policy and South-American integration.
About the Roundtable
Historically, Latin America has experienced the coexistence of different perspectives of integration and cooperation processes, often overlapping initiatives. The Lula government—influenced by the political will of the President—prioritised the construction of a South American framework under Brazilian leadership, with Brazil taking responsibility for the process. At the same time, MERCOSUR has faced trade-related difficulties and its political and social dimensions have been made core issues for the bloc. The result has been the emergence of a new South American space, with UNASUR as the main cooperation scheme.
As an alternative model of cooperation, ALBA has been created by Venezuela under President Chávez. It is overwhelmingly political in nature, and its proposal is to form an identity between countries that share political ideals and economic development strategies. In this context, Venezuela, together with Brazil, pushed for the transformation of the Rio Group into the new CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). But Dilma Rousseff’s inauguration in 2011 has resulted in a waning of the political dimension of Brazil’s approach to the region; the country’s actions have taken a pragmatic turn based on development-oriented initiatives. CELAC has not been receiving the same attention in Brazilian diplomatic circles as UNASUR. The definitive acceptance of Venezuela as a full member in MERCOSUR has brought a more balanced membership to the bloc, and the range of political positions that must now be catered for is far broader. On the other hand, a new group—the Pacific Alliance—has just been created, re-attracting Mexico to the South American scenario and emerging as a soft-balancing strategy with regard to MERCOSUR.
In light of these various initiatives, the speakers will address the broad question: to what extent has the new Brazilian regional posture with Dilma Rousseff, plus the recent political change in Venezuela with the death of President Chávez, created space for a new regional balance?