Peru and Mexico are holding elections this summer. They could be the latest in a string of Latin America countries to move left of center on the political spectrum. The question is, is this a good move for Latin America and for the U.S.?
Venezuela and Cuba aside, the other Latin American governments appear to be very willing and desirous to continue to maintain good relationships with the U.S. (including Evo Morales, indigenous president of Bolivia who has been very friendly with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez). The problem is in a post 9/11 world the U.S. has essentially been ignoring Latin America (which isn’t wise for many reasons which we will explore in the future) and it seems that relationships are deteriorating.
The current leadership in Latin America seems to be dedicated to opening up markets, if the U.S. and Europe will do the same. They seem to be desirous to root out corruption and create an environment where democracy can truly take hold. The problem may be that the U.S. continues to ignore the region and approach the relationship condescendingly at best and quasi-imperialistically at worst. U.S. protectionism of agricultural markets does nothing to encourage free trade and only strains the economic ties and therefore the political relationship. Also U.S. policy of pushing for privatization of nation mineral and petroleum reserves (which dramatically benefit large European and U.S. companies at the expense of the native peoples) has moved many Latin American countries to push for nationalizing these resources.
If the international relationships worsens throughout the hemisphere, security risks increase. Only through establishing workable and more equitable economic and political relationships will the U.S. be able to encourage Latin American help in accomplishing the goals of prosperity, peace, and progress for the entire region.