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The effervescence of a continent

Latin America escapes from the United States

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Is Washington losing Latin America?, wonders Foreign Affairs, the magazine of the very elitist Council on Foreign Relations. Relations between the United States and Latin America are at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Washington’s interest in the region was reduced and focused the Middle East. For Peter Hakim, chairman of the Inter-American Dialogue, an American think tank that studies Latin America, the United States is not the only responsible. The lack of political and economic reforms, social tensions and increasing inequalities, as well as the tendency to populism and the confrontation with the great neighbour of the North explain the current dead end too.

Economy

In the economic field, even when trade relations with Latin America are important (150 billion dollars in terms of exports), they are limited because of the absence of free trade agreements with some countries and the inability to impose an agreement with regard to the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas). This failure became clear when George W. Bush had to leave quickly the Mar del Plata Summit in Argentina. The access to region’s energy resources (oil and natural gas) depends on persistent tensions with Venezuela and the new balance of forces that the election of Evo Morales in Bolivia represents.

The political situation

The instability of some nations is chronic and more than a dozen presidents have been ousted by the people in the last ten years. The examples of Bolivia and Ecuador show the existence of deeply divided societies in the social and ethnic fields. Haiti is even described as a “failed state”. The activism of Hugo Chávez who, apart from his friendship with Cuba, challenges the continental leadership of the United States with his Latin American integration projects, seems to be the main source of concern. Thanks to his impetus, different projects have started to take shape, for example PetroCaribe and TeleSur, not to mention the inclusion of Venezuela in MERCOSUR. Evo Morales’ recent victory in Bolivia; the possible return of Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua; the emergence of Ollanta Humala and the ‘etnocacerista’ movement in Peru; or the prospect of seeing the former mayor of Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, take power in that country shows that the United States is not that influential in what it considered to be its “backyard”.

China’s increasing influence

Another concern is the increasing influence of China on the region. With countless investments in infrastructure, roads and ports, Beijing is about to become an extremely important actor in the region or even an alternative to American expansionism.

In short, the panorama is not that good, with an open anti-Americanism in may countries particularly fuelled by Washington’s unilateralism and the Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo scandals. The support given to those involved in the 2002 coup in Venezuela and the pressures to take Aristide away from Haiti have discredited all those beautiful speeches about democracy in the region.

Link to Peter Hakim’s article

- Is Washington Losing Latin America?
Foreign Affairs (Html

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Latin America

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Economic Commission for Latin America (Html

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- La esquiva equidad en el desarrollo latinoamericano
Economic Commission for Latin America (PDF

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408 Kb)

Culture

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Francia, Ministère de la culture et de la communication (PDF

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Defence

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Human Rights /governance norms

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Economy

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Environment

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Environment and health
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- The Songhua River Spill: China, December 2005
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Energy/oil

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States, pornographies

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- Ending Northern Uganda’s Crisis
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205 Kb)

- The call for tough arms controls: Voices from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
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354 Kb)

- Bolivia’s Crisis of Governance
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614 Kb)

- Maroc, rapport national 2005 sur les objectifs du millénaire
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- Sudan: Saving Peace in the East
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- Libya and the U.S.: The Unique Libyan Case
The Middle–East Quarterly (HTML

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- Katanga: The Congo’s Forgotten Crisis
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1,8 Mb)

Iraq

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- Iraq and the War on Terrorism
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203 Kb)

- The Iraq War and Its Lessons for Developing Local Forces
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300 Kb)

Liberties

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380 Mb)

- La liberté de la presse en 2005
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International Relations

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- Failed States and Flawed Logic
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- Latin America Forecasts: 2006
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930 Kb)

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Terrorism

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Transportation

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