The annual gathering known as the Ibero-American Summit was designed to develop ties among countries with strong cultural and historical bonds and develop a bloc with political and economic power. But with every passing year and every successive summit, the event has instead contributed to the sense that Latin America is increasingly riven by profound ideological divides, made worse by persistent regional rivalries.
The latest summit, held this week in Mexico, showed just how wide some of the chasms have become and how difficult it will prove to build a united Latin America, much less one that enjoys close links with its former colonial rulers in Europe.
The differences have bubbled over in public before. The most dramatic moment of acrimony came during the 2007 gathering in Chile, when Spain’s King Juan Carlos shut down the then-president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who kept interrupting the Spanish prime minister. “Por que no te callas?” the king said, translated virally as, “Why don’t you shut up?” The remark triggered spontaneous applause among Chavez critics and lasting offense among his supporters.