And Then There Was No Empire

Biden is to host the Summit of the Americas in June, where he hopes to deepen Washington’s hegemony over the region, writes Vijay Prashad.

Bisa Butler, U.S., “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” 2019.

By Vijay Prashad
Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

Empire denies its own existence. It does not exist as an empire but only as benevolence, with its mission to spread human rights and sustainable development across the world.

However, that perspective means nothing in Havana nor in Caracas, where “human rights” has come to mean regime change, and where “sustainable development” has come to mean the throttling of their people through sanctions and blockades. It is from the standpoint of the victims of empire that clarity comes.

U.S. President Joe Biden is to host the Summit of the Americas in June, where he hopes to deepen Washington’s hegemony over the Americas.

The United States government understands that its project of hegemony faces an existential crisis caused by the weaknesses of the U.S. political system and the U.S. economy, with limited funds available for investment within its own country, let alone for the rest of the world.

At the same time, U.S. hegemony faces a serious challenge from China, whose Belt and Road Initiative has been seen in large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund’s austerity agenda.

Rather than work alongside Chinese investments, the U.S. is eager to use any means to prevent China from engaging with countries in the Americas. Along this axis, the U.S. has revitalized the Monroe Doctrine. This policy, which will be two centuries old next year, claims that the Americas are the dominion of the United States, its “sphere of influence,” and its “backyard” (although Biden has tried to be cute by calling the region the U.S.’s “front yard.”)

Along with the International Peoples’ Assembly, we have developed a red alert on two instruments of U.S. power – the Organization of American States and the Summit of the Americas – as well as the challenge that the U.S. faces as it tries to impose its hegemony in the region. The red alert is featured below and is available here as a PDF. Please read it, discuss it, and share it.

What is the OAS?

The Organization of American States (OAS) was formed in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1948 by the United States and its allies. Though the OAS Charter invokes the rhetoric of multilateralism and cooperation, it has been used as a tool to fight against communism in the hemisphere and to impose a U.S. agenda on the countries of the Americas.

Roughly half of the funds for the OAS and 80 percent of the funds for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an autonomous organ of the OAS, come from the U.S. It is worth noting that – despite providing the majority of its budget – the U.S. has not ratified any of the IACHR’s treaties.

The OAS showed its true colors after the Cuban Revolution (1959). At a meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in 1962, Cuba – a founding member of the OAS – was expelled. The declaration from the meeting stated that “the principles of communism are incompatible with the principles of the inter-American system.” In response, Fidel Castro called the OAS the “US Ministry of Colonies.”

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The OAS set up the Special Consultative Committee on Security Against the Subversive Action of International Communism in 1962, with the purpose of allowing the elites in the Americas – led by the U.S. – to use every means possible against popular movements of the working class and peasantry.

The OAS has afforded diplomatic and political cover to the U.S.’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as it has participated in the overthrow of governments that attempt to exercise their legitimate sovereignty – sovereignty that the OAS Charter purports to guarantee. This exercise has gone all the way from the OAS’s expulsion of Cuba in 1962 to the orchestration of coups in Honduras (2009) and Bolivia (2019) to the repeated attempts to overthrow the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela and ongoing interference in Haiti.

Since 1962, the OAS has openly acted alongside the U.S. government to sanction countries without a United Nations Security Council resolution, which makes these sanctions illegal. It has, therefore, regularly violated the “principle of non-interference” in its own charter, which prohibits “armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements” (chapter 1, article 2, section b and chapter IV, article 19).

Diego Rivera, Mexico, “Liberación del Peón” or “Liberation of the Peon,” 1931.


Venezuela, led by President Hugo Chávez, initiated a process in the early 2000s to build new regional institutions outside of U.S. control. Three major platforms were built in this period: 1) the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in 2004; 2) the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in 2004; and 3) the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2010.

These platforms established inter-governmental connections across the Americas, including summits on matters of regional importance and technical institutions to enhance trade and cultural interactions across borders. Each of these platforms have faced threats from the United States. As governments in the region oscillate politically, their commitment to these platforms has either increased (the more left they have been) or decreased (the more subordinate they have been to the United States).

At the sixth summit of CELAC in Mexico City in 2021, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suggested that the OAS be disbanded and that CELAC help to build a multilateral organization at the scale of the European Union to resolve regional conflicts, build trade partnerships and promote the unity of the Americas.

Tessa Mars, Haiti, “Untitled,” Praying for the visa series, 2019.

What is the Summit of the Americas?

With the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the United States attempted to dominate the world by using its military power to discipline any state that did not accept its hegemony (as in Panama, 1989 and Iraq, 1991) and by institutionalizing its economic power through the World Trade Organization, set up in 1994.

The U.S. called OAS member states to Miami for the first Summit of the Americas in 1994, which was subsequently handed over to the OAS to manage. The summit has convened every few years since to “discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional level.”

Despite its stronghold over the OAS, the U.S. has never been able fully to impose its agenda at these summits. At the third summit in Quebec City (2001) and the fourth summit in Mar del Plata (2005), popular movements held large counter-protests; at Mar del Plata, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez led a massive demonstration, which resulted in the collapse of the U.S.-imposed Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement.

The fifth and sixth summits at Port of Spain (2009) and Cartagena (2012) became a battlefield for the debate over the U.S. blockade on Cuba and its expulsion from the OAS. Due to immense pressure from the member states of the OAS, Cuba was invited to the seventh and eighth summits in Panama City (2015) and Lima (2018), against the wishes of the United States.

However, the United States has not invited Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela to the ninth summit to be held in Los Angeles in June 2022.

Several countries – including Bolivia and Mexico – have said that they will not attend the meeting unless all 35 countries in the Americas are in attendance. From June 8–10, a range of progressive organizations will hold a People’s Summit to counter the OAS summit and to amplify the voices of all the peoples of the Americas.

Rufino Tamayo, Mexico, “Animals,” 1941.

In 2010, the poet Derek Walcott (1930–2017) published “The Lost Empire,” a celebration of the Caribbean and of his own island, Saint Lucia, in particular as British imperialism retreated.

Walcott grew up with the economic and cultural suffocation imposed by colonialism, the ugliness of being made to feel inferior and the wretchedness of the poverty that came alongside it. Years later, reflecting on the jubilation of the retreat of British rule, Walcott wrote:

And then there was no more Empire all of a sudden.
Its victories were air, its dominions dirt:
Burma, Canada, Egypt, Africa, India, the Sudan.
The map that had seeped its stain on a schoolboy’s shirt
like red ink on a blotter, battles, long sieges.
Dhows and feluccas, hill stations, outposts, flags
fluttering down in the dusk, their golden aegis
went out with the sun, the last gleam on a great crag,
With tiger-eyed turbaned Sikhs, pennons of the Raj
to a sobbing bugle.

The sun is setting on imperialism as we emerge slowly and delicately into a world that seeks meaningful equality rather than subordination. “This small place,” Walcott writes of Saint Lucia, “produces nothing but beauty.” That would be true of the entire world if we could get beyond our long, modern history of battles and sieges, warships and nuclear weapons.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest book is Washington Bullets, with an introduction by Evo Morales Ayma.

This article is from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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14 comments for “And Then There Was No Empire

  1. Seby
    May 28, 2022 at 08:49

    We got to stop using this cia term “regime change” and talk in plain and simple language!

    Coup d’Etat or overthrow of government are more reality than empire propaganda narrative based terms.

  2. Vincent ANDERSON
    May 27, 2022 at 17:42

    Thanks for a great layperson’s guide to the proverbial field! Perhaps the People’s Republic of China will soon make enough headway with recent UNASUR development projects to head off the Yanquis at the pass. Just one, albeit personal, angle on this prospect.

    My Spanish instructor at the local state college evening school had spent a prior period teaching soldiers at Fort Hood in TX, before marrying and moving here to Newt- and Greene-land. She was born to Peruvian aristocracy, as I soon learned via introduction to her elder brother, a major general in their army. He immediately (ca. 2012) noted his upcoming book on ‘the Chinese takeover’ of South America. ‘RAND?’ ‘Oh, how did you know that?’ ‘Just a guess.’

    RAND is a major surveyor of recent Latin American movement of their B&R Initiative. E.g., their huge infrastructure funding for a railroad connecting Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, running through Brazil and Peru. ‘Li calls for a manufacturing shift in Peru,’ China Daily 5/25/15. Cited here, at p. 275:

    Lopez-Obrador and comrades are undoubtedly paying attention to this constructive pull from the Far East. Far better for ‘all’ concerned than to contend with Northern precedents.

  3. Realist
    May 27, 2022 at 15:10

    Becomes clear why our southern border is simply inundated with migrants, mostly from Latin America.

    We’ve used the Monroe Doctrine as such an effective instrument for turning our entire hemisphere into a veritable heaven on earth.

    What a deal for our “Lower 48” as well. LA can say to the CIA, “Thanks for all the crack!”

    • WhatsItAllAbout
      May 29, 2022 at 06:34

      “We’ve used the Monroe Doctrine as such an effective instrument”

      Memory suggests that the effective instruments were bribes, drugs and weapons, but I may not be a realist in your definition.

  4. evelync
    May 27, 2022 at 15:05

    Thank you so much, CN, for publishing V. J. Prashad’s comprehensive article tying together for me the threads of history, including the Monroe Doctrine and the OAS, that weave through our brutal exploitation of the indigenous peoples of Latin America.

    Tales by Graham Greene and John Le Carré come to mind.

    RE paragraph 5:

    “Rather than work alongside Chinese investments, the U.S. is eager to use any means to prevent China from engaging with countries in the Americas. Along this axis, the U.S. has revitalized the Monroe Doctrine.”

    This reminds me of CODEPINK’s interview with 2 young people living in Africa, one working on behalf of the people of the Congo and the other in South Africa who were asked how people in those countries view the Chinese vs the Americans.
    The man working in the Congo responded – well, as part of their B&R initiative China is building a monument to Lumumba. The Americans are the ones who killed him….everyone here knows this and draws their opinions from that.

  5. Alex Cox
    May 27, 2022 at 12:50

    Mexico hasn’t refused to attend. But like Argentina, its president will stay away if Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela aren’t invited.

  6. John Doran
    May 27, 2022 at 12:03

    William Guy Carr’s book Pawns In The Game reveals that the banksters funded both Communism & Fascism, to keep us humans fighting wars on borrowed money that is created out of thin air.
    He was a WWII Canadian naval intelligence officer.
    Can be read free online at
    He also reveals Rothschild’s 1773 plot for world domination, hatched by ex(?) Jesuit Adam Weishaupt & launched 1776 by the illuminati invasion of freemasonry.

  7. Dfnslblty
    May 27, 2022 at 11:45

    >> However, the United States has not invited Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela to the ninth summit to be held in Los Angeles in June 2022.<<

    To change the usa's rejection of these three, and to change usa's domineering perspective toward all would make the world a safer sphere. Not to change will demonstrate once again usa's imperialistique sickness.

  8. jo6pac
    May 27, 2022 at 10:53

    My hope is joe b. summit is a failure and then China holds a summit in Cuba;-)

    Shaun O you nailed it the threat thingy

  9. Vera Gottlieb
    May 27, 2022 at 10:38

    For crying out loud…how much more hegemony do the shit disturbing Yanx want? There isn’t a place on this planet where their noses aren’t in. Go home, Yanx…stay home and clean up the horrible mess your backyard is. AND…practice what you so assiduously preach to others.

  10. Shaun Onimus
    May 27, 2022 at 10:15

    Great article. Sounds like the Summit of Veiled Threats. The sooner the US Empire crumbles, the better it will be for the Americas and the World.

    • William Todd
      May 27, 2022 at 12:13

      And for the people of the U.S. as well who have been held in thrall for far too long by the empire’s elites.

    • Jeff Harrison
      May 27, 2022 at 14:33

      +1 Great description. Remember, the US doesn’t have allies, it has hostages.

    • Nathan Mulcahy
      May 27, 2022 at 14:36

      The Empire of Lies…. the Empire of Hypocrisy….

Comments are closed.