In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Regional Integration in Latin America

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Contemporary Perspectives
  • Historical Perspectives on the Resurgence of Latin American Regionalism
  • Inter-American Regionalism
  • Post-liberal Regionalism
  • Diversity Among Country Perspectives
  • Mercosur
  • ALBA
  • The Pacific Alliance

Political Science Regional Integration in Latin America
Flavia de Campos Mello
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 August 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 February 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0152


Regional integration in Latin America has a long history of expectations and disillusions. The resurgence of regional cooperation in the 1980s paved the way for the economic agreements of the so-called open regionalism of the 1990s. Since the early 2000s, there has been a new impetus in Latin America’s regional initiatives. Several institutions have been created, such as the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (Alba), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), and the Pacific Alliance. The coexistence of these diverse recent associations with previous projects such as the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) has been widely discussed from different perspectives. In general, academic studies have acknowledged that Latin America became much more heterogeneous in political and economic terms, setting new dynamics to regional agreements. In the past, the well-established idea of Latin-American integration included the intent to promote increasing levels of policy coordination in the region but also to create an alternative to US-led inter-American regionalism, which would cover the entire hemisphere. Since the first decade of the 21st century, regionalism in Latin America is characterized by the diversity and changing patterns of ongoing subregional processes. The sections in this article address these dynamics from contemporary perspectives.

General Overviews

This section includes books that provide comprehensive overviews from different perspectives. Briceño-Ruiz 2007 and Dabène 2009 are detailed historical and institutional analyses of the processes of regional integration in Latin America. Bulmer-Thomas 2001, Fawcett and Serrano 2005, and Mace, et al. 2011 are edited volumes discussing regionalism in the Americas at the hemispheric level and look at Latin American subregional processes in the context of the prospects for inter-American relations. Puntigliano and Briceño-Ruiz 2013 and Riggirozzi and Tussie 2012 are edited volumes that address specifically Latin American regionalism.

  • Briceño-Ruiz, José. La integracion regional en America Latina y el Caribe: Procesos historicos y realidades comparadas. Merida, Venezuela: Universidad de los Andes, Publicaciones del Vicerrectorado Academico, 2007.

    A detailed historical account of the processes of regional integration in Latin America and the Caribbean from a comparative perspective.

  • Bulmer-Thomas, Victor, ed. Regional Integration in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Political Economy of Open Regionalism. London: University of London, 2001.

    A collection of studies on regionalism in the Americas in the 1990s, including Mercosur, NAFTA, CARICOM, the Andean Community, and the Central American Common Market.

  • Dabène, Olivier. The Politics of Regional Integration in Latin America: Theoretical and Comparative Exploration. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230100749

    An analysis of the political dynamics of regional economic integration in Latin America. Discusses institutional dimensions and prospects for regional governance.

  • Fawcett, Louise, and Monica Serrano, eds. Regionalism and Governance in the Americas. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230523029

    A comprehensive volume with chapters assessing the prospects of inter-American regionalism in the context of US–Latin American relations and the negotiating process of the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

  • Mace, Gordon, Andrew F. Cooper, and Timothy M. Shaw, eds. Inter-American Cooperation at a Crossroads. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

    Comprehensive volume on the prospects of inter-American relations, including assessments on the institutionalization of regionalism within Mercosur, NAFTA, and Alba.

  • Puntigliano, Andrés Rivarola, and José Briceño-Ruiz, eds. Resilience of Regionalism in Latin America and the Caribbean: Development and Autonomy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1057/9781137328373

    Comprehensive volume that looks at the reasons for the resilience of regional integration thought and action in Latin America and the Caribbean, with chapters on subregional perspectives (the Caribbean, Central America, the Andes) and country perspectives (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina).

  • Riggirozzi, Pía, and Diana Tussie, eds. The Rise of Post-Hegemonic Regionalism: The Case of Latin America. London and New York: Springer, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-2694-9

    Empirically driven analyses of current models of governance in several areas, including the South American Defence Council, monetary agreements, infrastructure projects, and civil society.

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