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US Policy in Latin America: It Matters at Home

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Until recently, US foreign policy in Latin America was overshadowed by the economic and political turbulence of Eastern Europe, the Baltics, Russia, and Southeast Asia. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the war in Bosnia, trade conflicts with Japan, and a multitude of United Nations peacekeeping initiatives throughout the world captured the focus of senior US policy makers Latin America, with the vast majority of its states forging towards enhanced democratic rule and economic stability, failed to achieve the same level of keen US interest. As recently as 1992, global economists continued to portray Latin America as the next great investment opportunity. The transition from authoritarian leadership to democratic rule and more investment-oriented internal economic policies throughout the region suggested that Latin America... was poised for a new boom. .. Five of the six fastest rising stock markets in the world in 1991 were Latin American. It clearly appeared that success in Latin America had been achieved. But all in Latin America may not be as it appeared just a short time ago. Unequal distribution of wealth, continuing budget deficits, and growing distrust in governmental institutions remain potential threats to the accomplishments of the past few years. Coupled with the recent financial crisis in Mexico, Latin America has recaptured our interest. This essay assesses US interests in the region, recommends US policy objectives in Latin America, and analyzes alternative strategies for accomplishing those objectives. US major interests in Latin America, more than ever before, relate directly to our domestic well-being. Unlike our earlier twentieth century experiences concerns for safe passage and the threat of non-hemispheric intervention and influence in the region no longer remain of critical importance.

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  • Government and Political Science

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