U.S. National Security Policy in Latin America:  Threat Assessment and Policy Recommendations for the Next Administration

Vanda Felbab-Brown

Introduction: U.S. national security policy in Latin America, from the Monroe Doctrine on, has mainly consisted of efforts to keep undesirable actors and flows out: out of power in Latin American countries and out of U.S. territory. In the post-Cold War era, the earlier geopolitical emphasis has been largely supplanted by a focus on drugs, illegal immigrants, and refugees. During the administration of George W. Bush, however, the scope of perceived security threats from Latin America to U.S. security was again expanded to include President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and his anti-American ideological project, Chávismo, and global jihadi terrorists.

Yet the Latin American countries by and large, with the exception of Colombia, have balked at the new U.S. definition and agenda of security priorities for the hemisphere. The Global War on Terror, for instance, has received little resonance in the region. Similarly, although the vast majority of governments cooperate with the US war on drugs, many disagree with the dominant emphasis on eradication and source-country policies.

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