This research essay looks at the Latin American alignment with United States in the post cold-war era. Latin America has been associated with Soviet Union from the 1960s until the 1980s. Thus we will take a look on patterns in which US alignment has taken, taking in consideration political economic military and cultural connections.
The essay illustrates factors reinforcing and causing tension for US-Latin America connection. Further will take look at the nature and extent of Latin America shift to leftward in the past decade as well as discuss the emerging alliances. From the findings it can be noted that United States hegemonic and coercive control transited to partnership and cooperation as a result of changes in the international system and limited resources of the United States.
The factors contributing to this alignment include natural and human resources of Latin America; geophysical proximity and scarcity of resources in the world. It is concluded that this alignment have both beneficial and side effects to both involved.
PATTERNS OF LATIN AMERICAN-US ALIGNMENT IN THE POST COLD-WAR ERA, CONSIDERING POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, MILITARY AND CULTURAL CONNECTIONS
According to Klaveren (1992) Latin America has been viewed as a marginalized and abandoned continent. It has had little or distant influence on global politics due its geo-physical isolation. The region has been relatively been calm except during the Central American crisis of the 1980s. Klaveren (1992) elaborates that although Latin America has been peaceful externally it has had a history of internal conflicts in which foreign countries have not been involved except the United States.
Due to interdependence and emergence of new rules in the global arena, there has been a change in redefinition of security concept. The United States redefines it in terms of drug trafficking, environmental protection and migration flow (Klaveren, 1992, p.29). Klaveren (1992) notes that geographical, cultural and political proximity of Latin America to US makes it player in supply of specialized and non-specialized labor to the aging population of United States. As a result they alleviate labor shortage to the later and aggravate brain drain in the former (Klaveren, 1992, p.30).
Latin America has had good political ties and values with United States for a long time since World War 2. However there has been shortcoming in relation to human rights violation and democracy (Klaveren, 1992, 30). Economically Latin America trades with United States on several commodities, whereby the U.S. is a major market for Latin America motor vehicle parts, capital commodities and agricultural products (Klaveren, 1992, 27).
There have been cultural ties between the U.S. and Latin America. Currently there is an influx of migrants from Latin America. They are progressively becoming large population in the U.S., which definitely has effect on U.S. life (Klaveren, 1992, 30).
FACTORS THAT REINFORCE AND CAUSE TENSIONS IN THE LATIN AMERICAN CONNECTIONS WITH THE US
Latin America possesses vast natural resources, for instance, Brazil is ranked among 10 top most powerful economies of the world while Mexico is in the second lot (Klaveren, 1992, 26). Latin America is endowed with mineral resources such as oil that is critical to world economy. Since Latin America has relatively developed industrial sector it is able to exports products to U.S. with the likes of Brazil and Mexico. More so, because of geo-physical proximity to U.S. they are able to supply specialized and non-specialized work force to them (Klaveren, 1992, 26).
On the other hand a couple of factors cause tension with the U.S. one being the diversification of Latin American economies with inclusion of Japan and other developing countries. The lack of effective security measures in Latin America brings into fore the security concerns of U.S. with the increase of drug trafficking and proliferation of small arm (Klaveren, 1992, 26).
THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF LATIN AMERICA’S SHIFT LEFTWARD OVER THE PAST DECADE.
Latin America was formerly under American system from early 1960s but due to changes in the global economy it has moved from “natural segmentation to institutional integration based on geographic specialization” and has created their own niche so as to offer specialized services to the receiving end of the technological flow (Klaveren, 1992, 22, 27).
Since the end of cold war, the influence of Soviet Union to Latin America has declined. This resulted to difference in structural institutions of Latin America. For instance Brazil and Columbia had different positions on the liberalization of services in Uruguay Round (Klaveren, 1992, 39).
Also, Klaveren (1992) notes that Brazil and Chile developed different alternatives to solve debt crisis after the 1980s Central American crisis. This gives us the complexity nature of Latin America in the post cold war era. The internal issues are as different as is the external. Therefore, only a collective action based on concrete and common interest (Klaveren, 1992, 39).
Latin America internal issue could only be dealt on specific case by case and by sector to sector.
This is observed when looking at how in the UN General Assembly, Latin America votes with other developing countries or in the third world. However, there is differentiation within the Third World countries that could make variation in the pattern of how Latin America will play in global power (Klaveren, 1992, 39).
A number of challenges are yet to be tackled by Latin America such as “pleas for solidarity and just international order” which will seem to be unnoticed and changes in the international system will have a direct and long term effect on Latin America (Klaveren, 1992, 41). Thus the influence of the region to international system will depend on specific strategies, internal, economic and political environment in which the strategies will be based upon (Klaveren, 1992, 41).
Each country will have to mobilize economic, political and strategic resources so as to impact the global system otherwise they will be isolated (Klaveren, 1992, 41). The individual country foreign policy must adapt to changing international system and that scarcity of resources demands careful and selective decisions on approaches and choices to make (Klaveren, 1992, 41). It is worth noting that although sound external strategies are good; they must be backed with domestic conditions for them to flourish (Klaveren, 1992, 41).
THE EMERGING REALIGNMENT BETWEEN THE US AND LATIN AMERICA AND WITHIN THE LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRIES
The new emergence in realignment comes in the wake of global changes and the different administration of the US over time. Varas (1992) explain that the gradual integration of Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean economies in the North American geo-economics space led to erosion of single Latin American region.
The post Latin American will be characterized with sub region system with different economic, political and strategic weight. There foreign policy, he adds, that was once useful for hegemonic alliance is now obsolete and new paradigm is necessary to address regional and international changes (Varas, 1992, p.48). Within the Latin American countries should use broad based approach, which takes account of political, economic and cultural orientations. The United States have now transited from a hegemonic and coercive control to partnership and cooperation control. In this regard, according to Varas (1992) the U.S. was no longer dominant in the international system as well as had limited resources to control and support the hemispheric countries.
Thus policies of free trade and decision-making were determined bilaterally in this new system. While the Latin America was agitating for liberalized world trade the U.S., advocated for open trade and cooperative approaches to international problems such as weapon proliferation, terrorism, international violence and environmental degradation (Varas, 1992, 51). The U.S. cooperation with Latin America is on security matters where it seeks to establish credible defense systems, which are effective in peaceful conflict resolution (Varas, 1992, 56). The U.S. is also helping to strengthen democratic institutions and human rights although democracy is still elusive (Varas, 1992, 67). More so U.S. is strengthening its ties with Latin America on socioeconomic issues, especially when considering immigrants to US.
The long-term effect of these developments will not lack the merits and limitation for either side. To the U.S. they will be consolidating their presence in Latin America and use low cost measures in ensuring security to its nationals especially when dealing with drug trafficking, greenhouse effect, terrorism and global violence. However, this is threatened by the increasing immigrants from Latin America to U.S. The U.S. will have to depend on immigrants for labor because of its low fertility rate and aging population. The Latin America will suffer brain drain although such scenario would provide employment opportunities for its emigrants. The Latin American countries will definitely have economy growth due to direct foreign investment, just international trade and transfer of technology. The emergence of new developed economies like Japan, China Korea and Taiwan add to long-term effects to Latin America.
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