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U.S. Perspectives and Foreign Policy in Latin America - Essay Example

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U.S. Perspectives and Foreign Policy in Latin America

The BBC asserted that while the U.S. government has been busy implementing its war against terrorism in Iran and Afghanistan, its relations with Latin America turned sour, from Mexico down to Peru. Strong anti-American feelings, or what one Peruvian leader called "the neo-liberal economic model that has failed to benefit our nation", converted into a string of electoral victories by what the West perceives as left-leaning governments. 2

A "leftward" drift is apparent in Latin America's southern hemisphere since the start of the decade. In Venezuela, leftist Hugo Chavez garnered 56.93% of the votes in 30 July 2000. In Brazil, center-Left Luis Inacio LULA da Silva won 61.27% in the second round of elections in October 27, 2002. In Argentina, left-leaning Nestor Kirchner was sworn in as president on May 25, 2003 to a four-year term of office after his rival, Carlos Menem, decided to stand down. In Uruguay, Tabar Ramn Vzquez Rosas of the Frente Amplio garnered 51.94% in the October 31, 2004 elections. In Bolivia, left-wing Evo Morales won a historic 54% of the vote in 18 December 2005. In Chile, center-Left Michelle Bachelet's second round votes of 53.49% beat Michelle Bachelet in 15 January 2006. In Peru, center-Left Alan Garcia beat Ollanta Humala in 4 June 2006. 3

Lula is again expected to win in the upcoming run-off elections this 29 October 2006. On December 3, Venezuela's Chavez will face liberal democrat Manuel Rosales. Elsewhere in the region, leftward shifts that are not necessarily anti-U.S. have also been observed in Honduras, Haiti, and Costa Rica. Former Nicaraguan Sandinista Party Chief Daniel Ortega will make another presidential re-election bid in November 2006.

II. Independence, Regional Integration and Petroleum Politics

Noam Chomsky, the renowned linguist and political analyst, noted in June 2006 that for the first time since the Spanish colonization, many countries in the hemisphere are "moving towards a degree of independence and towards a degree of integration." Petroleum-oil and gas-is a key issue. Chomsky adds that the United states is "terrified" considering that the largest energy producer in the hemisphere is Venezuela, which is one of the five founding members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Bolivia, with its vast gas reserves, is second to Venezuela. 4

Last February, U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice accused Chavez of "Latin brand of populism that has taken countries down the drain," and that Venezuela's relationship with Cuba is "particularly dangerous." 5

A controversial figure next to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is Evo Morales of Bolivia. Last March 2006, Noam Chomsky said of Evo Morales's victory:

"Morales' election reflects the entry of the indigenous population into the political arena throughout the continent. Along with other popular forces, indigenous people are demanding control over their own resources, a serious threat to Washington's plans to rely on resources from the Western hemisphere, particularly energy." 6

Otto Reich, former assistant secretary of state for the Western hemisphere and adviser to President George Bush, presents a different view however. In the same BBC interview with Noam Chomsky regarding Evo Morales challenge to the ...Show more

Summary

Given the rise of left-leaning leaders in countries like Venezuela, Argentina and Bolivia in recent times, there could be a no more relevant time than the present to critically analyze and explore US Security Policy in Latin America.
Author : gloveralta
U.S. Perspectives and Foreign Policy in Latin America essay example
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