Pocket Talks | Reviving the Inter-American dialog? The relations between the US and Latin America

Bruno Luciano Theodoro, KAS Fellow in European Studies at the Center for International Relations at Getulio Vargas Foundation, based at the School of Social Sciences/CPDOC, attended seminar at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and the Congress, an American think tank, from October 19th to October 25th in Washington, D.C. The event addressed discussions on US’s domestic and foreign policy. Under the frame of this discussion, the researcher talks about the foreign policy of the United States, focusing on the relationship with Latin America.

Is there a specific trend in US foreign policy towards Latin America? Is Latin America a strategic region for the United States?

Latin America has ceased to be strategic to the US foreign policy in recent decades. The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) was perhaps the last initiative of a more profound engagement of the US towards an approximation with the region. Since then, the US has sought to develop dialogue fora and bilateral agreements with individual countries (Mexico, Colombia), in priority areas such as commerce and the combat of drug trafficking.

Therefore, the region is not a priority for US foreign policy, more concerned with the current dynamics of the Middle East and Asia Pacific, which have been testing the limits of the superpower.

How can the strengthening of regional institutions in Latin America affect the conduct of foreign policy by the United States?

While the US has avoided developing policies for the region, Latin American countries have increased ties of cooperation and integration by building a series of regional arrangements and regimes, with different aims and ideologies. Even though the US is not part of these new initiatives, the country's relationship with the region is not irrelevant to the development of integration efforts, either by approximation or by expulsion. Some of these projects, like the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), have anti-hegemonic and anti-American aspects as core values.

Regarding South America, the standpoint that seems to prevail for the US is that the countries in the region, especially Brazil, should ensure regional development and democratic stability, avoiding the costs of any US interference.

Considering Brazil’s recent presidential elections, what are the perspectives of the US foreign policy towards Latin America during the last two years of Barack Obama’s mandate?

The results of the mid-term elections in the United States (that occurred on November 4th) and the presidential elections in Brazil indicate a troubled domestic political scenario for both Barack Obama and Dilma Rousseff. The rise of the opposition in both countries challenges any initiative to strengthen the dialogue between the two countries, especially in the US, where the Senate, which is the most important institution for the conduct of US foreign policy, is now controlled by Republicans. The lack of a more structured US policy towards Latin America will continue as a trend for the next few years, given the prevalence of other domestic and external priorities for the country.


Read the previous Pocket Talks here:

The reelection of Dilma Rousseff and the future of Brazilian Foreign Policy

Regionalism in the framework of Brazilian elections

Why is History relevant to Internetional Politics?

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