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date: 10 December 2022

Identity and Regional Institutions in Latin Americalocked

Identity and Regional Institutions in Latin Americalocked

  • Germán C. PrietoGermán C. PrietoDepartment of International Relations, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
  •  and Juan Carlos AguirreJuan Carlos AguirreFriedrich-Alexander University

Summary

The relationship between identity and institutions has traditionally been a main explanatory factor of the unfolding of regionalism from a constructivist lens. Yet, this relationship has not been largely addressed in the study of regionalism in Latin America, where collective identity is often expected to be strong, but regional institutions are often considered weak. The relationship between institutional flexibility and inertia with collective identity can be illustrated by the cases of the Andean Community (AC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), where due to harsh disagreement between member states about crucial issues, these regionalist projects risked being thrown into question or even terminated. The AC has stronger institutionalization than UNASUR. Analysis of the AC shows that institutional flexibility and inertia, articulated with certain dimensions of Andean collective identity and even triggering identification effects among member states, helped overcome certain critical moments. First, Peru’s reluctance to adopt certain commercial schemes for meeting the project’s aim of constituting a common market led the other AC members to consider expelling Peru from the regional scheme, but institutional flexibility and inertia, along with issues of collective identity, allowed Peru to remain an AC member. Second, Bolivia’s and Ecuador’s abandoning of collective FTA negotiations with the EU could have implied dismantling the regionalist project due to the impossibility of it acting as a bloc in the trade area, but the relationship between institutional flexibility and inertia with collective identity enabled maintaining the project and handling the critical moment successfully. In contrast, while the disagreement around the constitution of the Banco del Sur did not endanger the creation of UNASUR and later its continuity, mainly thanks to institutional flexibility though not so much to institutional inertia, the lack of a strong collective identity, together with the lack of institutional inertia, made the regionalist project fail in facing its first profound crisis regarding diplomatic conflict among its members around the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro’s government in Venezuela, despite but also due to the huge institutional flexibility that had persuaded member states to join UNASUR in the first place.

Subjects

  • Identity

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