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The United States and Latin America in the 21st century: Recommendations for a sound and sustainable foreign policy

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  1. Executive summary.
  2. Historical perspective.
  3. Key current issues and developments.
    1. The rise of populism.
    2. Trade.
    3. Security.
    4. Economics hardships and energy resources.
  4. Priorities for a new U.S-Latin America policy.
    1. Encourage the building of stable democratic institutions.
    2. Promote economic policies that foster development.
    3. Social development.
    4. Building defense partnerships.
  5. Country specific strategies.
    1. Venezuela.
    2. Bolivia.
    3. Colombia.
    4. Brazil.
    5. Cuba.
  6. Conclusions.

Traditionally, the relationship between the United States and Latin America has been marked by periods of ups and downs, and often indifference. Over the past decade, the latter has largely settled in. However, in view of the region's increased global profile and reach, devising a healthy U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America is extremely vital to both U.S. and Latin American political and economic interests. Patching up broken ties and establishing new partnerships will not be easy, especially considering the rising levels of anti-American sentiments across the region and the shift to the left of several Latin American governments. These new developments, however, should not be reasons for further alienation and fear, but rather should stimulate the U.S. to assume a more proactive role in the future political, economic and especially social trajectory of the region by promoting the development of sustainable domestic solutions to the challenges Latin America is now facing. The political and social advancement of the region is crucial to the achievement of U.S. interests and should be at the core of the new administration's long-term foreign policy strategy in the region.

[...] While the populist governments now in power in Latin America, Venezuela, Argentina, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Chile, are vastly diverse with differing levels of citizens' support, the focus on social agendas on part of the regimes is a trend that the United States cannot ignore. Addressing the shortcomings of democratic institutions will entail embracing the concerns that are the top priority of most of the governments in the region. Trade Latin America is the fastest growing regional U.S. partner. [...]

[...] Additionally, Hugo Chavez has widely publicized his contempt for the United States and its leadership and has made it clear that he is not willing to engage in a constructive diplomatic dialogue with the U.S. The security threats in Latin America should be of paramount importance to the United States as they deeply affect global political and economic prosperity and stability. But as with trade, security cannot be the only focus of U.S. interests. Economics Hardships and Energy Resources Over the years, successful economic development in most Latin American has enabled the region to become one the U.S.' biggest economic partners. [...]

[...] The establishment of NAFTA marked a turning point in hemispheric affairs and set the stage for many current political and economic challenges the United States and the countries of Latin America are now faced with. After the Cold War, the attacks of September marked another drastic change in U.S' foreign policy focus. As during the Soviet era, the United States began to view Latin American countries from a security perspective and determine relationships based on U.S' defensive approach to global political dynamics. [...]

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