The space left for regional integration (or lack thereof): Structural causes of institutional fragmentation in Latin America (1991-2019)
Abstract Regional integration in Latin America and the Caribbean has seen better days. We claim recent retreat trends are related to China and Brazil acting respectively as extra-regional and regional catalysts of institutional fragmentation. Our main hypotheses propose the following conditions are necessary for increasing fragmentation in the region: advances of an extra-regional emerging power, and the absence of a regional paymaster that promotes integration. By comparing regional organizations using longitudinal data, we find that growing ties to China and shrinking ties to Brazil can be associated with evidence of institutional fragmentation in Latin America. We claim that the two factors increase competition between regional organizations through a mechanism of changing set of costs and benefits of engagement and participation promoted by China’s interest and Brazil’s disinterest on each project.