"Agreement" is the happy buzzword at the Summit of the Americas in Miami, but nagging differences persist between the United States and its Latin American neighbors.
For example, Latin American countries declined to include an extensive U.S. anti-narcotics proposal in the summit's final documents, to be approved Sunday. A political analyst from the region said officials of Bolivia, Peru and Colombia "hit the ceiling" when the U.S. State Department made the tough proposal.The three countries are the main producers of cocaine, and they have long been at odds with the United States over how best to stop trafficking of the illegal drug. Jaime Aparicio, an official of Bolivia's foreign ministry, said Friday that the U.S. document contained proposals that were unacceptable, such as using chemical herbicides.
Aparicio said the document also proposed no increase in U.S. aid for "alternative development" to reduce farmers' dependence on crops of coca leaf, the raw material of cocaine. This is one of many points of disagreement between Washington and Latin American countries.
Others include illegal immigration, labor and environmental standards, and trade protectionism. While governments have agreed on a declaration of harmony and accord, friction has been frequent in pre-summit negotiations.
"There are differences on each one of the items of the agenda," said Gert Rosenthal, who heads the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. "You could probably say there is broad agreement, but if you go down the list one by one, there are differences on each one."
As a result, the final declarations will contain many watered-down versions of punchier points proposed in preparatory meetings. Open bickering will be avoided, but hemispheric harmony will be far from complete.
In their most resounding decision, the 34 presidents and prime ministers meeting here will agree to work for hemispheric free trade. In negotiations over wording of that agreement, however, Latin Americans resisted U.S. efforts to link labor and environment standards to the trade issue.
Without such "linkage," many Democrats in Congress may have trouble selling the idea of hemispheric free trade to their pro-labor and pro-environment constituencies. Many Latin American governments, on the other hand, contend that hard-to-meet standards on these issues could be a barrier to progress toward free trade.