Over the past decade, Latin America has experienced significant social and economic transformations. Despite the differences in each country’s approach to international relations, the trends indicate a common desire for Latin America’s autonomy from its northern neighbors, manifested in the sudden proliferation of regional organizations such as the Union of South American Nations and the Latin American and Caribbean Community of States. However, the Organization of American States (OAS), which for decades has been the main guarantor of choice of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, is facing a challenge to its legitimacy and continuation as the premier diplomatic forum of the western hemisphere.
On March 15, the Latin America Initiative at Brookings and the Global Center for Development and Democracy hosted a discussion of the future of the OAS, the institutional changes needed to maintain its relevance and what the United States should do to reengage the region. Panelists included Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Alejandro Toledo, president of the Global Center for Development and Democracy and former president of Peru; José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States; and Martin Torrijos, former president of Panama.