Priorities for the Next U.S. Administration

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Since the turn of the century, perhaps earlier, there has been a consistent distancing between the U.S. and Latin America. Today it is difficult, perhaps even fanciful, to talk about U.S. policy toward the region as a whole; region-wide policies are mostly a thing of the past. During the Cold War, the U.S. had a security strategy focused on keeping the Soviet Union out of Latin America, discouraging the emergence of communist or even leftist governments, and sometimes working to overthrow them. The war on drugs was a modest addition to the strategy.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the  return of elected governments across Latin America, President George H.W. Bush proposed a new regional agenda, calling for a common effort to build a more integrated and cooperative hemisphere. The agenda included negotiating a hemisphere-wide free trade agreement, reinforcing the collective defense of democracy and human rights, and bolstering inter-American institutions. Each of these initiatives, however, fell far short of their goals.

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