Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

The EU strategy for relations with Latin America

Delivered in Plenary - 20th April 2010

Madam President, High Representative

I congratulate Mr Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra on an excellent report on the EU’s strategic relationship and partnership with Latin America.

After the 2004 enlargement to central and eastern European countries, the EU has understandably refocused the CFSP towards the east, i.e. Russia, Central Asia and China, but nevertheless trade between Latin America and the EU continues to grow rapidly. So this largely democratic region with whom we have much in common must not be forgotten.

Later this year, Brazil will mark another stage in its emergence as a world economic and political giant when the country holds a presidential election and President da Silva steps down after his maximum two terms. Brazil, along with Mexico, is now designated as an EU strategic partner. Colombia is also a promising example of how democracy can truly flourish in Latin America and it is now negotiating an FTA with the EU. It too will hold a presidential election and its people will undoubtedly miss the visionary leadership of Álvaro Uribe.

In contrast, Venezuela is led by a populist demagogue, Hugo Chávez, who has shown scant regard for democracy and freedom of expression. Bolivia and Ecuador have also shown worrying signs of following the disreputable example of Chávez and Castro’s Cuba.

Finally, it is deeply regrettable that President Kirchner in Argentina has chosen to divert attention away from domestic politics and her poor performance as president by employing bellicose language over the Falkland Islands, whose inhabitants wish to remain British.