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Thu. November 15, 2018
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The Fall of U.S. Hegemony in Latin America
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By Adam Kott It is no secret that U.S. interaction with Latin America during George Bush’s presidency has been largely unremarkable. While Latin America has not been a main foreign policy focus for American presidents since the end of the Cold War, President Bush entered the White House with plans to address the region. Bush’s primary goal was to create a temporary guest-worker program with Mexico. Prior to 9/11 Bush was for relaxed border and immigration policies as workers from Mexico and other nations in Central and South America were mutually beneficial to both nations. However, September 11th changed the president’s priorities and put Latin America on the back burner. As a result of this the U.S. has lost its position of power in the region and is now facing rivals from both inside and outside the Western Hemisphere. Today the rising power of Brazil and Russia threatens American dominance in the region. While Brazil represents a beacon of hope in the region in terms of political and economic stability, the same cannot be said for Russia. Under the auspices of integrating global markets Russia has drastically increased its activity in the region. This represents a threat to the United States’ hegemony and must be dealt with carefully. Brazil is a strategic ally of the United States for a number of reasons. The fifth most populous nation in the world, Brazil’s leadership role in Latin America has only increased in recent years. A 2007 Freedom House report characterizes the country as Free, as it has had free and fair elections for some time now. Additionally, Brazil has received high marks in the category of civil liberties and political rights. Corruption is the main political drawback as there always seems to be a politician or two in the national under questionable circumstances. Economically Brazil has been strong in the past few years and GDP growth was predicted to be 4.5% this year. However the recent worldwide financial panic has slowed its exports and although growth will still be strong, it will not be as high as expected. In terms of its international standing Brazil enjoys a healthy reputation. The nation is a vital part of many international organizations that range from the United Nations to Mercosur, a common economic market in South America. Brazil has always been a willing participant during international talks and continues to be an important and influential member of various Latin American organizations such as the Rio Group and the Organization of American States. Brazilian-American relations are friendly as the United States depends on the nation to set a good example for its South American neighbors and American consumers are Brazil’s largest market. Cooperation in the areas of counter-narcotics, the environment, and trade have led Brazil to be the United States’ most important ally in Latin America outside of Mexico. While Brazil has slowly began to replace the United States as the most important figure in Latin America, recent interactions with Russia threaten the region with external hegemony once again. During the Cold War the Soviet Union’s influence in Latin America was large to say the least. The USSR provided Cuba, Nicaragua, and El Salvador among other nations with extensive financial and military. Nonetheless, Russia has been generally inactive in Latin America since the end of the Cold War. In recent months it has stepped up talks with regional leaders. Recently military exercises between Russia and Venezuela have occurred and the two nations are currently working on an arms deal. Courting another leftist-leaning president, Evo Morales of Bolivia has recently announced that Russia will provide aid to help fight the nation’s large drug trade. Overall it seems Russia will continue to expand its presence throughout Latin America in areas such as energy development, narco-terrorism, and military proliferation. While the United States has lost its dominance in Latin America, the arrival of Russia in the region does not imply that the U.S. has “lost.” Rather, the United States can continue to be a strong economic and political ally to many nations in Central and South America. By lowering its protective tariffs and encouraging free trade, U.S. imports will help build up the developing economies of the region. Latin America would benefit most if they were to take advantage of both Russia and the United States’ attempts to build up the region. By combining the outside influence of these nations with the leadership of Brazil, Colombia, and Chile, Latin America may achieve prosperity in the not too distant future.

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