Political and economic integration schemes have long been a staple of Latin American foreign policy. But changes in the regional and global economy since the early 2000s have created new incentives for the reform of global governance mechanisms to reflect the new constellations of political and economic power.

South American countries benefited from soaring Chinese demand for commodities, energy and agricultural products, put their fiscal houses in order after years of painful adjustment, and implemented social programs that lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty and reduced inequality. The United States and Europe, meanwhile, remain mired in recession, leading prominent Latin American intellectuals to speak of historic power shift from West to East.

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