f_0016618_14360

f_0016618_14360 - The US and Latin America: Repairing a...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations The US and Latin America: Repairing a Damaged Relationship by Peter Hakim R epairing the US relationship with Latin America will be a formidable challenge for the United States, regardless of who is elected president next year. Trust and credibility have to be restored among the region’s leaders and ordinary citizens. The anti-Americanism that has taken hold in the region has to be reversed while the practice of political and economic cooperation has to be restored; however, the prospects for success do not depend only on Washington. The governments of Latin America and the Caribbean will also have to do their share to rebuild cooperation in the Americas, despite having lost confidence in the US as a reliable partner. D ISHARMONY IN THE A MERICAS Not so long ago, the United States and other nations of the Americas were celebrating a newly found political harmony and working to integrate their economies. The US, Canada, and Mexico ratified the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993. The following year, the hemisphere’s heads of state assembled in Miami, for the first time in a generation, and agreed to negotiate a free trade arrangement among all thirty-four countries of the Americas. But convergence had its limits. The Clinton Administration failed to obtain the congressional authority needed to advance hemispheric trade talks, and Brazilian President Cardoso made clear that, without substantial changes in US farm and commercial policies, Brazil would oppose any new regional free trade arrangements. Prospects for cooperation were set back further when a post-9/11 Washington redirected the bulk of its foreign policy attention to the Middle East. The US invasion of Iraq in 2003, opposed virtually everywhere in Latin America, was an especially damaging blow. By then, Brazil-US disputes had brought free trade negotiations to a standstill, and Hugo Chavez had become an increasingly disruptive force in hemispheric affairs by aggressively promoting his anti-US message across Latin America. However, Chavez is not responsible for the waning of US influence and credibility in Latin America, rather the opposite is closer to the truth. Washington’s diminished authority paved the way Peter Hakim is President of the Inter-American Dialogue. 9
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HAKIM The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations for the Venezuelan leader’s expanding role in the region. The erosion of US influence in Latin America and the rapid upsurge of anti-American sentiment were mostly consequences of the Iraq invasion and the subsequent conduct of the war. The combination of brutality and failure has been disastrous for Washington’s image in a region long anxious about US power. In addition, US actions at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo made Washington look hypocritical. For years, the US government had lectured Latin America about human rights and the rule of law, even when countries
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f_0016618_14360 - The US and Latin America: Repairing a...

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