The Road to Hemispheric Cooperation: Beyond the Cartagena Summit of the Americas

Introduction

Introduction

For the United States, the tumult exhibited at this spring’s Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia was an unfortunate but increasingly common display of the shifting templates of contemporary inter-American relations. From the high point of the Miami Summit in 1994—when a convergence of historic transitions to democracy and more open economies gave birth to an ambitious hemispheric agenda of cooperation across multiple sectors—to the failure in Cartagena to reach agreement on a final declaration, plus an embarrassing scandal involving U.S. Secret Service agents, regional diplomacy has grown ever more fractious and deadlocked. The fragmenting poles of power and influence in the region—a rising Brazil, a combative alliance led by Venezuela, a weakened Central America bogged down by economic stagnation and criminal violence, a struggling Mexico adapting to global forces and a new president, and a distracted and despondent United States, not to mention the pull of new actors like China and the downcast eyes of old actors like Europe—translate into a frustrating competition for leadership and growing doubts about the usefulness of pursuing a hemispheric agenda.

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