The UN resolution condemning the annexation of Crimea by Russia which was voted on Thursday at the general assembly showed Latin America (and Mercosur) divided on the issue. The non binding resolution sponsored by Costa Rica and the western powers received 100 votes, with 11 against and 58 abstentions.
Chile, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Dominica Republic supported the text in defense of the principle of territorial integrity and condemning the illegality of the 16 March referendum in Crimea, in which the majority of the Crimean population voted for the incorporation to Russia and was accepted by the Kremlin.
Those voting against included ALBA members (Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas Peoples), Venezuela (Mercosur), Bolivia (in the process of joining Mercosur), Nicaragua and Cuba. ALBA was masterminded by the former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
Among those abstaining were Mercosur full members Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, plus Ecuador and El Salvador.
The Ukraine crisis and Crimea annexation has serious diplomatic and political implications for Latin America besides the traditional alignments close or not to the United States.
One of those issues refers to the legality of the referendum and later Russian annexation taking into account the Falklands/Malvinas question, with sovereignty disputed by Argentina and where in March 2013, an overwhelming majority, 99.8%, in a referendum with international observers voted to remain as a British Overseas Territory.
The other troubling issue is that of the 'Maiden revolution' in Ukraine which ended in February with the ousting of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, and which is seen by several Latin-American countries as a regime change forced by Washington and its allies.
This is particularly significant given the current situation in Venezuela where protests that took off on 4 February against the government of elected president Nicolas Maduro have escalated to a situation of open revolt with over 36 people killed and more than 400 injured.
Others countries such as Brazil, Argentina and even Chile which have suffered massive protests, some of them spontaneous, with thousands of people in the streets demonstrating are closing following events. Ecuador, Bolivia were also exposed to similar situations and in Paraguay a president was removed by Congress.
Bolivia can't remain silent before the attempts to interrupt a constitutional process; before the tearing down of a government elected legitimately by the people, said Sacha Llorenti the country's ambassador before the UN arguing that the vote did not represent 'adhering or condemning any country in particular
The phrase 'change of regime' has extended across our planet, the same words and some of the same methods used to oust democratic elected governments and which have been implemented for several decades in all continents. They asphyxiate governments democratically elected in the name of democracy, claimed Llorenti.
The Bolivian ambassador then enumerated the provision of millions of dollars through NGO, the media bombardment, misinformation and the financing of the opposition to combat legitimate governments.
The Cuban ambassador Rodolfo Reyes went further and claimed there was a plan to violently oust a constitutional government at the price of tens of lives and hundreds of injured, because of the intervention of the United States and its NATO allies.
Among the abstentions that of Brazil was the most outstanding given the country's regional power standing and the fact it is a member of BRIC of large emerging economies, made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Brazil supports all efforts for a peaceful solution to the crisis and invites the sides to an inclusive dialogue said ambassador Antonio Patriota in a speech in which he avoided openly referring to the Crimea situation. The four BRICS associates of Russia abstained.
Argentina on the other hand reiterated its 'very clear' position on the principle of territorial integrity but criticized the 'moment chosen' for the resolution, insisting that it only leads to limit dialogue and the peaceful solution of conflicts, said ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval.
Likewise Uruguay's Cristina Carrión argued that the territorial integrity of States is a UN principle but the project involves elements of political inconvenience and which significantly alter the reach of the current resolution.
Those countries that supported the resolution clearly claimed that respect for the charter of the UN was paramount and that appealing to arms to solve crisis was not acceptable.
Self determination to be real must be preceded of an open debate, clear and with accepted rules by all sides, plus the impartiality of authorities and the presentation of true alternatives to the population argued Eduardo Ulibarri, Costa Rica ambassador, and one of the country-sponsors of the UN resolution.
We are concerned that given real or artificial disputes, the first action has been the display of military forces, not the opening of dialogue” underlined the ambassador.