This essay discusses efforts at creating a unified Latin American region through the lens of different integration attempts. Part I briefly examines MERCOSUR and the Andean Group and how these two efforts failed to achieve promises made under the free trade model that grew under the Washington Consensus. Structural problems and changing political tides left these two groups unsuccessful, and ultimately the election of populist leftwing presidents in Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela ushered in a new model of integration intended to increase the economic development of Latin America in an equitable fashion. Despite their different ideologies and missions, both Alianza Bolivariana de las Américas (“ALBA”) and Unión Suramericana de Naciones or Union of South American Nations (“UNASUR”) shared much with their predecessors. Part II describes the first of these new efforts, ALBA, tracing its history, development, organizational structure, institutions, grannational enterprises, and bank, creating a picture of ALBA’s failure over time. ALBA sought the transformation of Latin American societies, making them more just, participative, and united, through the enactment of various principles and a general framework. The essay also explains the ways ALBA leadership attempted to refine goals over time with little success. This section includes a discussion of PETROCARIBE, an agreement signed at a summit of Caribbean nations, and how this treaty diluted ALBA’s goals. Part III examines UNASUR tracing its origins, mission, organizational structure, institutions, and specialized councils. UNASUR was modeled after the European Union and sought to establish full economic, political, and monetary unity in South America. This section outlines several issues that prevented UNASUR from achieving its goals, such as differing political agendas amongst member states and major structural issues, to show how UNASUR, like ALBA, ultimately failed its mission. In particular, this section explicates the various councils enacted by UNASUR and reveals how their structure and lack of institutional framework made them ineffective. Part IV concludes that the failures of both ALBA and UNASUR to achieve their goals or even to survive underscores several important lessons for integration organizations.



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