The other day I retweeted a tweet by Telesur announcing that Mercosur’s Parlasur had issued a statement rejecting intervention in Venezuela with the snarky comment, “does anyone care about Parlasur any more?” Admittedly I was confusing the Mercosur parliament with the Latin American and Caribbean parliament, or Parlatino, the body created in 1964 to promote regional integration. In my defense, given the welter of regional organizations, it’s an easy mistake to make and one that further proves my point below.
My friend Francisco Toro of Caracas Chronicles responded to my tweet, writing that washed up diplomats and politicians need some place to go, and—later, referencing the famous Warhol quote—that every citizen should have their 15 minutes of diplomatic fame. (I don’t know if Quico was also confusing the Parlasur with Parlatino or even the Parlacen—the Central American parliament—but it’s safe to assume he wasn’t. He’s smarter than I am.)
But the exchange got me thinking. As I’ve written, Latin America and the Caribbean is the most over-summited region in the world, with a glut of regional organizations: monuments to past efforts at political integration that somehow still exist and new institutions, most recently with the Bolivarian Alliance of Peoples of the Americas (ALBA), the Union of South American Republics (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States.
Which led me to a question: If you add all the different regional groupings that have parliamentarians or ambassadors with diplomatic status, how long would it take, in 15 minute intervals, for every citizen of Latin America to be “ambassador-for-a-day” (or, at least, for 1/96th of a day)? According to my back-of-the envelope calculations, it would only take a little over 42 years for every one of the region’s 647,565,336 citizens (according to the website Worldometer) to occupy a seat in one of the hemisphere’s many diplomatic bodies.
Here’s how I got there. First, added the total number of diplomatic positions or ambassadors in the major regional organizations: the Organization of America States (32, taking out the U.S. and Canada), the Parlatino (276), the Parlacen (125) and the Parlasur (115). I’m sure I’m missing a few, and I didn’t include ALBA, UNASUR or CELAC in my calculations because they don’t (yet?) have elected parliamentarians or ambassadors—though if they did have one for each member country it would add another 57 seats to the regional diplomatic corp.
But just assuming 548 positions, if you divide the population of the region (647,565,336) into those positions, there is a regional diplomatic/parliamentarian position for every 1,485,531.95 citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean—perhaps making it one of the most overrepresented regions in the world! This isn’t even counting national and sub-national government. I then calculated how long it would take each of these individuals in 15 minute segments to cycle through one of the 548 positions, which leads to 42.5 years for immunity—impunity—for all!
Here’s the list of calculations:
1,485,531.95 people per seat
Multiply by 15 minutes
Equals 22,282,979.25 minutes.
Divide by 60 minutes to convert to hours
Equals 371,382.9875 hours.
Divide by 24 hours to convert to days
Equals 15,474.2911458333 days.
Divide by 365 days to get to years
Equals a little under 42.5 years.
 This would be the 13 members of UNASUR, the 33 members of CELAC and the 11 members of ALBA, St. Lucia, Bolivia, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Cuba (http://theglobalamericans.org/reports/oas-permanent-councils-discussions-on-venezuela-and-venezuelas-withdrawal-summer-2017/) assuming they only allocated one diplomatic post per country.