Surge of Election-Year Interest
Campaign Issues and Hemispheric Meetings
One hundred and fifty years ago this month, Simon Bolivar, the liberator of Colombia and Venezuela, convoked the first meeting on western hemispheric unity. The meeting, held in Panama from June 22 to July 15, 1826, attempted—unsuccessfully—to “establish a great hemisphere confederation, composed of all the American nations.”1 A treaty creating the federation never went into effect because only one nation, Colombia, ratified it.
In the succeeding century and a half, Latin America has continued, with varying results, to search for that elusive unity. A heads-of-state conference,2 called by Panama to commemorate the 1826 meeting, was “indefinitely postponed” last month when several Latin American governments objected to the invitation issued to Cuban Premier Fidel Castro. In place of ...