Friday, September 26, 2014

SOUTHCOM Roundtable

I participated in a policy roundtable at U.S. Southern Command focusing on the positives and negatives of U.S. policy toward Latin America in the past decade. That included writing a 5-7 page paper based on our presentations--I am polishing up mine, and I think they're eventually going to be posted on the website of FIU's Latin America and Caribbean Center.

The thrust of my comments was the U.S. actually is seen positively in Latin America. There are numerous studies showing popular opinion in this direction, and in Brazil you have a president and left-leaning candidate both saying they want to improve relations. So there is tremendous potential. But on certain issues--esp. drugs, immigration, and Cuba--we see a disjuncture between strategies employed and policy goals we want to achieve. In large part because of domestic politics, the U.S. is inflexible on these issues (I cite, for example, Bolivia's alternative drug strategies that show promise but the U.S. government rejects) and that isolates us.

At any rate, there was a lot of interesting discussion that I am still chewing on. As I was thinking during my trip home, I wonder how to figure out a "Goldilocks" policy. We do not want zero attention to Latin America but we also do not want too much crisis-ridden attention. What we want is mid-range, proactive attention. That may or may not be politically feasible.

On a different note, it struck me how many Latin Americanists are on Twitter--practically all the participants except General Kelly himself. And after years of communicating through social media (I think not long after I started blogging 8+ years ago) I finally met Boz in person. He is the latest in an amazingly long list of Latin Americanists I've come to know through blogging and tweeting.


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