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Relations between Latin America and the United States

As Barack Obama flies to Cartagena in Colombia this week to attend the Summit of Americas, LAB has produced a special issue of the newsletter focussed on relations between Latin America and the United States. Our guest editor for this issue is Grace Livingstone, the author of a recent book on US policy in Latin America (which LAB can offer at a special price. See below). She has brought together a specially-commissioned collection of articles and interviews.

We begin with an overview of Barack Obama’s policy in Latin America, written by Grace Livingstone.  She argues that Obama has allowed right-wing Republicans and the Pentagon to dominate his agenda and highlights the tragic consequences of this strategy in Colombia. Far from learning the lessons of Plan Colombia, she argues, Obama has embarked on the same militarized strategy in Mexico. Read more.

The militarisation of Mexico is analysed by two experts. Laura Carlsen, director of the America’s Program at the Center for International Policy, examines the social cost and political implications of the US strategy (read more), while Jacob Parakilas, of the London School of Economics, explains why it is wrong to regard the violence as exclusively ‘Mexican’ and shows how the US counter-insurgency strategy developed.Read more.

Grace interviewed Adam Isacson, senior associate for regional security policy for the Washington Office of Latin America. Isacson, whose blog is a ‘must-see’ for anyone interested in US policy in Latin America, talks about:

  • Obama’s policy in Latin America and outlook for policy in the region after the US presidential elections. Text and podcast.
  • His fears of a bloodbath in Colombia. Text and podcast.
  • Obama’s failure in Honduras. Text and podcast.
  • Obama’s policy in Cuba and Mexico. Podcast.
  • The Pentagon’s plans to build military bases throughout Central America.Podcast.

His map of bases being constructed by the US in Central America and the Caribbean can be found here.

In the political field, despite hopes that Obama would end the interventionism of the Bush years, his administration has continued quietly to fund opposition groups in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.  As Venezuela approaches crucial presidential elections, Ewan Robertson, a writer for the Venezuelanalysis website, puts the spotlight on recent US intervention in the country. Read more.

Despite the predominant continuities in US policy, Latin America has changed significantly. It has become more autonomous, more assertive and more united than ever before. Haroldo Ramanzini Júnior, lecturer at the Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Uberlândia (UFU), looks at the rise of Brazil and the challenge that poses to US hegemony in the region. Read more.

Bringing together these strands and assessing the balance of forces in the Americas, Professor Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, of the Universidad di Tella in Buenos Aires, describes Latin America as an ‘ecological superpower’, which is more stable than most regions of the world and increasingly vocal on the world stage. He discusses US priorities in Latin America and provides a provocative prescription for Venezuela.  Read more.