To access the full paper, download the PDF in the left-hand sidebar.
In September 2021, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hosted the sixth
meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). This
regional organization was inaugurated in 2011 by then president of Venezuela, Hugo
Chávez, as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS) and U.S.dominance in that regional organization. As current president of CELAC, López Obrador has continued to push the separatist agenda established by Chávez, proposing that CELAC should model the European Union (EU), with its political, economic, and social integration as a supranational organization, thereby eliminating the need for the continuing alliance of the OAS.
The OAS was created in 1948 as a collective security alliance in the Western Hemisphere before the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. It had a similar goal to NATO—to serve as a unified front against communism during the Cold War. It never formed into a formal military alliance like NATO, but it clearly focused on security relations between states in the region, with the United States as the dominant actor in setting the agenda for the organization. Its anti-communist stance solidified in 1962 with the expulsion of Cuba as a member, following Fidel Castro’s successful revolution and before the Cuban missile crisis. Throughout the Cold War, the OAS continued to function as a regional security organization to promote democracy and condemn communism (the “Red Tide”). After the Cold War, the OAS led the charge against authoritarianism and Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) or “Pink Tide” movements (an ideological trend toward socialism, as opposed to communism). In fact, on September 11, 2001, the OAS foreign ministers were meeting in Lima, Peru, condemning Chavez’s anti-democratic policies and signing the Inter-American Democratic Charter. They quickly transitioned to condemning terrorism (the first international organization do so) and, shortly after, on September 21 in Washington, D.C., they signed a resolution—Strengthening Hemispheric Cooperation to Prevent, Combat, and Eliminate Terrorism.
While few observers of Latin America gave much credence to López Obrador’s declaration that CELAC could become a replacement for the OAS—much less a political and economic union like the EU—this paper seeks to assess a variety of possible future scenarios using the Framework Foresight methodology. Combining this methodology with structured analytical techniques (SATs) employed by intelligence analysts, this paper examines these potential scenarios and determines the drivers that could explain how they would come about. The paper begins with background on efforts by states in the Western Hemisphere to form regional organizations and the context for those bodies. It then explains the Framework Foresight methodology and SATs used in developing the scenarios and determining their drivers. Four futures for regional security in the Western Hemisphere are then explored using these analytical tools, focusing on the implications for U.S.-Mexico security relations. The paper concludes with an assessment of policy choices that the United States could implement to support the preferred future scenario.