Are We Losing Latin America?
Chavez, Cuba and the New Populism
By Peter H. Smith
Peter H. Smith is a distinguished professor of political science and Simon Bolivar Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of California, San Diego.
A new populism is rising across Latin America and Cuba faces what could be a tough transition period. After years of neglect, it's time for Europe and the United States to reengage a trans-Atlantic dialogue on Latin America.
"The problem with U.S. policy toward Latin America... is that it does not reflect strategic considerations. Politicians do not realize the extent to which U.S. interests are at stake in the region."
-- Arturo Valenzuela, former U.S. official
"The European Union and Latin America are natural partners in reaping the benefits of economic globalization."
-- Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU official
Latin America has become an ideological battleground. In the name of democratic stability, Mexico and other countries advocate neoliberal economic policy, close ties with the United States, and gradual social reform. In the name of social justice, Venezuela and its allies espouse statist economics, virulent anti-Americanism, and revolutionary social change. As Jorge Castañeda has remarked, "these two sides are fighting over the soul of Latin America..." Nations such as Chile and Brazil attempt to stand above the fray.
In the meantime, Latin America confronts three possible outcomes: sliding toward the right, slipping to the left, or remaining deeply divided.
How can outside powers affect the future of Latin America? What has the United States been doing, and what might Europe do? Can the USA and the EU collaborate in this area?
To address such questions, this paper unfolds in the following ways:
1. overview of recent developments in Latin America
2. an assessment of Latin America's strategic importance
3. a review of U.S. policy toward Latin America, including the recent visit by President Bush
4. a review of European policies
5. an analysis of key issues on the near horizon
6. reflections for the future.
[El texto completo en: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,475423,00.html]
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