Iran is not the only 'pariah' looking to Latin America
Taiwan courts continued recognition as an independent country from select Latin American nations, while Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tries to bolster ties to regional allies.
Over the next week, an important leader from a widely rejected government will be touring Latin America looking to shore up his country's international legitimacy in the face of increasing pressure and rejection.Skip to next paragraph
El Salvador: Leftist FMLN party wins presidential election in tight recount
After Carnival trash strike, will Brazilian workers see gold in megaevents?
El Salvador runoff election: Why an FMLN win wouldn't mean bigger shift to the left
Venezuela's 'color revolution?' The complexity of wearing red. (+video)
Reporter's notebook: How has Mexico City changed?
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Obviously, I'm talking about Taiwanese Foreign Affairs Minister Timothy Yang.
The inaugurations of Presidents Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Otto Perez in Guatemala are an opportunity for Taiwan to send a high-level delegation to Central America and the Caribbean and shore up support in the few remaining countries that continue to recognize its legitimacy as an independent country. Yang began his trip in St. Lucia, which changed its recognition from mainland China to Taiwan in 2006 and has been generously rewarded with infrastructure projects since that time. With concerns that Nicaraguan President Ortega has considered changing recognition and Guatemala is getting a new president whose views on the China/Taiwan issue aren't particularly concrete, this is a serious trip for Taiwan to hold its ground in Central America.
For this reason, the trip may signal a renewed battle after several quiet years. Following the flipped recognitions of St Lucia and Costa Rica, China and Taiwan called an unwritten truce on their checkbook diplomacy in the region. Mainland China has taken a fairly enlightened view that it can still manage some economic and even backroom political relations with the governments that recognize Taiwan. The PRC appears to be building up a soft power sell in places like Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Paraguay over several years rather than trying to force the hard and decisive switch as soon as possible. Taiwan has been happy to not have to actively defend their recognition in a few places remaining in the world where they can travel and have relations. Plus, it gives them an excuse to stop over in the US and Europe for informal discussions, which Yang will be doing on this trip as well. Taiwan does not want to lose that.