Thursday, November 29, 2018

U.S. Priorities in Latin America

Chris Sabatini has an op-ed in The New York Times on U.S. policy toward Latin America. I agree with his argument that the U.S. is focusing so much on authoritarian governments that it is completely ignoring the democracies. The U.S. can walk and chew gum at the same time, and it should.

What this means is paying attention to what Latin American themselves want. Not what we want or what we think they should want (which has been a consistent problem in U.S.-Latin American relations).

Public opinion surveys show that Latin Americans care primarily about economic opportunity, corruption, security and immigration — none issues addressed by Mr. Bolton. Ignoring citizens’ concerns will mean derailing the chance for long-term partnerships between Washington and countries in the region, and sacrificing potential support for human rights and democracy.
Chris notes the importance of addressing corruption in particular. This is the ideal focus because you can simultaneously focus on dictatorships and the pent-up disgust in democracies. Nail money launderers from Venezuela and Guatemala alike.

Immigration is, of course, a lost cause. Trade is too. So there aren't even many potential avenues of engagement anymore.


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