WEEKLY REVIEW: SELA INCHES FORWARD

Created: 8/8/1975

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Weekly Review

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SELA INCHES FORWARD

The Latin American Economic System (SELA)isembodied spirit following the conference in Panama, where advocates had hoped to establish this new Lath/Caribbeanecond try at creation isforenezuela. Mexico, and Panama, the leading proponentsroad new hemispheric organization excluding the US. will probably lobby intensivelyore fruitful second session.

Both the promoters and the demurrers fool thai they achieved something at Panama. The originators of the notion take pride in having attracted delegatesho invitees but the Bahamas and Surinam. Mora-over, theynanimous resolution out of the conference favoring the establishment of SELA desp'te grave reservations on the part of many countries.

The opponents of SELA came reluctant but resigned to the need to maintain public solidarity, and found solace in havingelayorking grouporedefinition of the organization's goals and structure. The fundamental concern of those opposed is that SELA's principal goal iswhat the would-be founders msist that it is not: to put pressure on the US.

Critics of SELA also managed to raise the many practical problems that Venezuela and Mexico have tried to ignore. Ihe vagueproposed for SELA take no account ot the many political and economic differences that divide the countries of the aroa. and they fail to clarity the relationship wth tha various economic pacts and federations already mThe small countries are voicing theirover prospects of being dominated by the much larger economies of such countries as Brazil and Mexico. Also, tho SELA documents do not address the question of who would bear the burden of granting special treatment for the least developed areas.

One potential point of controversy never developed. The SELA meetingind of debut for Cuba in the Latin/Caribbeanfollowing the recent lifting of the OAS sanctions against Havana Continuing Cuba's rokt as behind-the-scenes sponsor of SELA. Cuba's delegation worked unobtrusively and evidently look pains not to give offense. The Cubans will be elated al the founding of an all-Latin system, but dearly do not intend to trumpet SELA as an anti-US victory, at least for the time being.

SELA's promoters will have to taka some note of the concerns that have been raised, but probably count more on the momentum of tho swing toward solidarity in getting Ihe union established. Whether SELA ever really promotes economic development is most likely oflittle importance to Mexico andThey would take satisfaction inaper organization that leaves out the US and lhat serves as another platform from which they can plead the casenew world order" more beneficial to thei' own interests.

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