The article examines and identifies geopolitical phenomena that explain the voting pattern of Latin American & Caribbean countries in the recent UN General Assembly. It also explores the process of intensified Hybrid Warfare in what has morphed now into a NewColdWarengulfing the Americas unleashed after the loss of global political ground that the US-led West has suffered in the systematicglobaltransition to multipolarity. Last October 12, 2022 a vote was taken at the UN General Assembly on a resolution on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The final results were 143 countries voted in favor of the resolution with the other 50 member countries in one way or another opposing it in their own way — with 5 voting against + 35 abstentions + 5 absent from the vote itself. This grouping of 50 countries after adding the various sovereign votes that were not in favor of the resolution can be considered to be against the resolution.
The Western-sponsored General Assembly resolution was intended as a response — albeit a merely symbolic and mediatic one — to Russia’s annexation via referendums of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia last month. Russia wanted the UN votes to be secret so that countries could express their will without feeling pressure from the United States, but the UN rejected that request, opting for an open voting system. If the United Nations is to become even more effective and coherent in dealing with international situations it must understand the current context of the NewColdWar, of which there is full historical evidence of how medium and small countries vulnerable to hybrid wars are co-opted to vote in international organizations for one side in order not to be punished with very real retaliation.
The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, had called on countries to vote against the resolution, calling it a “politicized and openly provocative document” and denouncing its sponsors as “unscrupulous Western blackmailers.” He regretted that the vote was not by secret ballot, as Russia intended, but which the assembly rejected. Nebenzia reiterated that the referendums were valid, as the populations of these regions do not want to return to Ukraine.
Nicaragua, which is governed by the brave Sandinistas, is among the countries that voted against the resolution along with Belarus, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russia and Syria. Of the 35 countries that abstained a large portion of these were African nations along with giants such as China and India, with Latin America contributing 3 abstentions by Bolivia, Honduras and Cuba. While Venezuela and El Salvador chose to physically absent themselves from the UN General Assembly vote along with Iran, Burkina Faso and others. This adds up to 6 Latin American/Caribbean countries that in one way or another did not vote in favor of this hollow and politicized resolution.
Evidently in this last vote there was a decrease in the number of countries that resisted the pressure from the West led by the US in the context of the New Cold War that punishes neutrality and sovereignty of nation-states. The US and the countries of the Western alliances such as NATO and the 5-eyes networks managed to corner the Latin American states with greater precision than in previous votes and to shape their support in the General Assembly. So this vote would be the fourth resolution passed with varying results since the beginning of the Special Military Operation in Ukraine which started on February 24. However, the UN vote demonstrated how little the picture has changed given that when UN members voted for a similar resolution to condemn the Russian Special Military Operation on March 2, 2022, less than a week after its commencement, which resulted in 141 countries voting in favor, with 35 abstentions and 5 votes against.
In the Caribbean, Cuba was among the countries that abstained from voting in such a way showing their principled neutrality and that they are truly sovereign countries that will not allow themselves to be used in geopolitical plots against third countries. Politically, the Caribbean continues to be satellites of the United States, basically a collective of captured states that are extremely vulnerable economically, with many having less than 1 million people in population as such, but even so, their vote has equal weight, at least for symbolic and media purposes, as the other countries in the General Assembly. And the ones that have more than 1 million people in population like Haiti, Trinidad Tobago, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Puerto Rico are still highly embedded within US imperial order and are in dire need of robust Democratic Security policies. Their economic dependence on the US is such that they cannot afford to act in a sovereign and neutral manner in this type of voting. Certainly, several Caribbean islands have increased obstacles against Russian citizens receiving services and procedures by applying US-EU sanctions since February 24 at the beginning of the Russian Special Military Operation in Ukraine.
This has intensified the pressure the US-led West is exerting to control the Caribbean states and Latin America in general. In what can only be described as a systematic campaign of blackmail, lawfare, mafia behavior, piracy, open support for opponents of the region’s elected government and a redoubling and intensification of the Monroe Doctrine’s Rules Based Order. US diplomatic personnel are in practice nothing more than agents of sabotage, deception and economic and political chaos around the whole region openly acting like viceroys not as partners. The more vulnerable the Caribbean state, the less they dare to exhibit sovereignty and risk infuriating the US against them even though they often wish they could remain neutral and let the parties involved deal with their own problems and situations.
The Russian government already has a fairly accurate understanding of the Neo Cold War context and with an upsurge of a multifaceted hybrid warfare on the one hand Lawfare, on the other hand Information Warfare along with massive support to groups opposing elected governments in Latin America. Therefore, many observers already foresaw that the West led by the US will redouble its efforts to reduce the number of countries that have resisted demonizing and condemning Russia to protect themselves from NATO expansion through Ukraine that sought to neutralize the second strike capabilities of the Eurasian giant.
Much of what is known as the Global South abstained with the BRICS almost voting in unison but not quite, as Brazil actually voted in favor of this resolution, just as the US-led West wished, while Russia, India, China and South Africa, managed to group together in a solid RICS front. Brazil is lucky to have any fertilizer available for their crops but thanks to Russia Bolsonaro was able to rule a well fed and prosperous Brazil at this very difficult global juncture. Yet the Brazilian president’s government was not able to show his sovereignty by enunciating a principled neutrality as India has so masterfully managed to do. Although it is possible that Russia may have some bilateral understanding with Brazil and may offer support to Russia later in a more pressing situation than this symbolic vote. Be that as it may, Brazilian society is now experiencing systematic pressures created by the ongoing Brazilian elections. Lula won 48% of the vote in the first round of the election on October 2, to Bolsonaro’s 43%, setting the stage for a competitive runoff on October 30. It is possible that Bolsonaro’s government made a calculation that it is better not to anger the US at such a delicate moment that will cause the US to stick its disappointing hand in and place more resources in support of Lula, as already seen in some form with Bernie Sanders attacking Bolsonaro. Brazilian civil society has become a fiercely polarized race that has been largely devoid of political debate and full of passions, with the population and the two candidates resorting to personal attacks to show their support.
As for Argentina, the current government has a great appreciation for Russia and seeks to integrate the South American country into the multipolar world. President Fernandez himself told President Putin in early February 2022 about how they could make “…Argentina become in some way a gateway for Latin America so that Russia can enter Latin America in a more decisive way”. On the other hand Argentina has many political, economic and financial problems that hinder the realization of its geo-economic objectives. Fernandez’s Argentina is under enormous pressure as the US government has empowered the Argentine judiciary to act against its own executive branch with the help of a notable chunk of the South American country’s media acting as agents of hybrid info-warfare against their own nation’s government. In addition to these immense political problems there are others of an economic and financial nature and the debilitating inflation experienced by the Argentine people. The first issue has to do with the indebtedness with private bondholders and then with the International Monetary Fund by the government of Mauricio Macri. It does not have indebtedness in pesos because it was the decision taken by the government since Martin Guzmán to finance itself in local currency. And the second issue that led Argentina to this vulnerability already during the government of Alberto Fernández has to do with the pandemic. These are systemic problems inherited by the government of Alberto Fernández leaving him with no alternatives but to continue with such a debilitating policy. The first ones as I say have to do with the indebtedness of the Macri and prior governments. The second with a policy of bailing out the private sector and informal workers — or sectors that were unemployed during the quarantine — and the economic standstill that resulted after COVID-19.
The votes, abstentions and absentees were very interesting and evidence of genuine international resistance as Russia has the support of its multipolar partners such as China and India to abstain from voting. Thus much of the Global South is on record to show that they do not agree with this US led West sponsored resolution. The General Assembly vote was meant to condemn the Russian referendums and the annexation of the four regions. Yet what these latest votes demonstrate is that Russia has a long way to go before nations in the Americas region with which it has more commercial connections such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico feel comfortable — and are more geoeconomically robust — to stand up to the US and preserve relations and neutrality on the international stage.