Voices from Latin America and the Caribbean: Our FES-work in the region

After a long eight-year break, the EU-CELAC Summit returned to Brussels on July 17 and 18. Check out some perspectives from Latin America and the Caribbean - directly from our 17 FES offices on the ground.

After a long eight-year break, the EU-CELAC Summit returned to Brussels on July 17 and 18 to renew ties between the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean. In June, the Commission also published a new agenda, outlining areas for future cooperation with this region. These areas include political engagement and investment strategies. The EU is giving a positive outlook on this strategic partnership. However, what is its standing in the region and which are the topics of interest for a cooperation from Latin American perspective?

Thanks to its 17 offices in the Latin America and the Caribbean, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) promotes social justice, democracy, peace and sustainable development in this region. How? The FES amplifies voices from its Latin American and Caribbean partners in civil society, politics, trade unions and the media. As FES EU Office, we take the occasion of the upcoming EU-CELAC Summit to bring these perspectives into the European discourse. Check out our selection of particularly interesting projects on key issues such as green and just transition, trade, and security.

How is the EU perceived in Latin America and the Caribbean?

According to “Latin America – European Union: views, agendas and expectations”, a survey (in English) carried out in 2021 by Latinobarómetro, Nueva Sociedad, and the FES, human rights violations, the pandemic, extreme poverty and climate change are the global issues which concern the region the most. While the European Union is seen as best partner in the above-mentioned areas (see picture below), the future path of bi-regional cooperation has to be newly shaped. Important topics for this partnership include trade, green and just transition, as well as security.

Trade – A vehicle for change and sustainable development?

The Mercosur trade agreement – as well as bilateral trade agreements with Mexico and Chile – are exemplary for the EU’s increased interest in Latin America. Although such agreements carry potential for economic growth and development, analyses of risk factors and assessments on their impacts are indispensable. Our colleagues from FES Argentina are contributing regional perspectives on the political debate around the Mercosur agreement in their study (Spanish only) “Los eventuales impactos del acuerdo entre el Mercosur y la Unión Europea”. It analyses the environmental and gender-specific impacts of the Mercosur trade agreement. The study shows that intensifying trade relations also means that vulnerabilities are likely to increase, for instance in terms of labour and environmental standards. This is also pointed out by the study “Estado del Banano en Ecuador: acumulación, desigualdad y derechos laborales” from FES Ecuador. The study shows that the EU-Andean trade agreement endangers the health of banana workers in Ecuador by not ensuring decent working conditions. In addition, it is also facilitating the use of pesticides that are banned in the EU.

A just, green and sustainable transition for Latin America

Pursuing a green transition is only sustainable if considerations of society are considered and human and environmental rights respected. The website (in English) “Defenders of Territory” shows the stories of women fighting for life, territory and human rights in Latin America. The regional FES Office “Transformación Social-Ecológica en América Latina” is working on different paths of transformation: “Caminos de la Transformation” are 14 infographics that give a good  overview of proposals and key figures for a social-ecological transformation in Latin America. The study “Visiones y apuestas ecofeministas frente a la crisis civilizatoria y la emergencia bioclimática” offers an eco-feminist view on the preservation of life, nature and climate.  Both are published by the FES regional office “Transformación Social-Ecológica en América Latina”. 

Risks of extraction and new renewable energies for the population and the environment should not be left out of the debate. The campaign “Poner a Escazú en el mapa!” (Integrate Escazú in the map!), for instance, calls to use the Escazú Agreement as a tool for environmental defenders by centering environmental and human rights.

Security for a Future of Democratic Stability and Human Rights 

With the war against Ukraine, a new world order is in the making. This has also repercussion on Latin America as a continent. Our regional security network has recently started a series of videos with experts exploring ideas about what is at stake in this war for Latin America.

On the regional and local level, however, Latin America is experiencing complex security challenges too. These include issues like inequality, human security, poverty, climate change but also declining trust in democracy. The expert network Red Latinoamericana de Seguridad Incluyente, of FES Colombia, follows a comprehensive and inclusive security approach. It emphasises citizen’s participation and the protection of human rights to strengthen democratic institutions rather than the militarisation of security policy. Subscribe to their newsletter (in English) to stay updated on security issues and developments in the region here.

Moreover, as emphasised in the UN landmark Resolution “Women, Peace and Security”, feminist perspectives and inclusion of women are integral to debating security. FES Mexico established several recommendations for feminist social transitions for Latin America and the Caribbeans to foster gender equality at the UN Women “Generation Equality Forum”. FES Brazil suggest a feminist foreign policy for the country on the model of European countries Sweden, Canada or Germany. Read the (Portuguese) publication here.

Lastly, we want to draw your attention to the acute need of funding in Venezuela to assist the social protection system and provide sufficient humanitarian aid for the country. FES Venezuela published this (Spanish) study to point out the potential of an International Trust Fund.

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