Thursday, May 15, 2008

CFR report on U.S.-Latin American relations

The Council on Foreign Relations has released a new study entitled, “U.S.-Latin American Relations: A New Direction for a New Reality.” It has a lot of sensible ideas, which probably means many in the U.S. will view it as crazy and/or radical. It’s a long document, and I am just highlighting some selected issues:

The Task Force finds that the issues of persistent poverty and income inequality must be better targeted by U.S. policymakers beyond the largely traditional reliance on trade and democratization alone.

The document explicitly questions the assertion that trade and market reforms reduce poverty, and calls for U.S. assistance with homegrown solutions.

The Task Force finds that the drug trade flourishes from a volatile combination of negative socioeconomic conditions in producing and trafficking countries coupled with high demand for narcotics in the United States and Europe, and increasingly in Latin America itself.

And, combined with the above assertion, comes the idea that the solution to drug trafficking is not simply more market-oriented reform.

The Task Force finds that comprehensive immigration reform is necessary to create a system that better meets U.S. security, economic, and foreign policy interests, and must be a priority for the next administration.

This is absolutely true.

While recognizing the political challenges and the importance of multilateral solutions, the Task Force recommends that the next administration proactively support the liberalization of textile and agricultural policies, including reducing and eventually eliminating tariffs and subsidies on agricultural commodities, including tariffs on ethanol, and relaxing rules of origin requirements on textiles.

In other words, if the U.S. wants to push market reforms, it needs to do so at home as well. Talk, meet walk. I do not agree with their overall idea that the state should get out of the way in all areas of the economy (in the U.S. as well as in Latin America) but it is hypocritical to push neoliberal solutions abroad when we do not follow them at home.

The Task Force finds that the United States must officially recognize all countries in the region and should work to identify areas of common interest and cooperation in order to advance U.S. interests, regardless of the countries’ political identity; this includes Cuba and Venezuela.

The sad thing is that so many people consider this radical.

There’s plenty more, so everyone can take a look and decide for themselves.


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