CRS Issue Statement on Latin America and the Caribbean
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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U.S. interests in Latin America and the Caribbean are diverse, and include economic, political and security concerns. Geographic proximity has ensured strong economic linkages between the United States and the region, with the United States being the major trading partner and largest source of foreign investment for many countries in the region. Free trade agreements with several countries have been critical means for enhancing of U.S. economic relations with the region. The region is also the largest source of U.S. immigration, both legal and illegal, with geographic proximity and economic conditions being major factors driving migration trends. Curbing the flow of illicit drugs from Mexico and South America into the United States has been a key component of U.S. relations with Latin America for almost two decades. Latin American nations, largely Venezuela and Mexico, supply the United States with just over onethird of its imported oil, but concerns are increasing over their reliability as an oil suppliers. While the region has made enormous strides in terms of political development over the past two decades, the rise of authoritarianism or what some have termed radical populism in several countries, especially Venezuela, as well as the Honduran militarys June 2009 ouster of the countrys elected civilian president have been U.S. concerns. In the 111th Congress, legislative and oversight attention to Latin America and the Caribbean to date has focused on the sharp increase in drug-related violence in Mexico and U.S. assistance to Mexico under the M rida Initiative, continued counternarcotics and security support to Colombia and efforts to assist Central American countries deal with the rise of violent gangs and drugrelated violence. As in past years, debate over the best means to foster political change in communist Cuba has been a focus of congressional attention.
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