Latin America in the New International System

Latin America in the New International System

Latin America in the New International System

Latin America in the New International System


This text places Latin America in the context of debates on economic globalization and the dramatically changing nature of the international system. The authors argue that the ongoing diversification of economic and strategic ties presents Latin American nations with new options - and also dangers.


Look, it's simple. There is an Americanization of the world. We cannot go in the opposite direction. At last we are going to make America here.

—Carlos Alfonso Ferraro, Peronist Governor of Jujuy, Argentina (1998)

Latin America faces a perplexing world. The end of East-West conflict means that the region no longer serves as a battleground for superpower rivalry. Within Latin America, passage of the Cold War has relaxed the terms of ideological contention, strengthened centrist elements, reinforced processes of liberalization under way throughout the 1980s, and enhanced the prospects for democratic consolidation. These changes have prompted the hope that Washington could come to evaluate and appreciate Latin America on its own terms, respecting regional aspirations and supporting national efforts for social and political development.

It has also been anticipated that the conclusion of the Cold War would expand the range and quality of policy options for Latin America. This may or may not be so. Leaders in the region currently confront two pressing imperatives. One is to find a viable position in the newly emerging global economy, a niche that could provide a foundation for long-term development and growth. The other is to forge a response to changing patterns in the distribution of international power, and, in particular, the intensification of U. S. hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. How might Latin America address these concerns? What is the range of plausible choice? For which countries of the region?

The goal of this chapter is to assess strategic options for Latin America at the outset of the new millennium. I begin with a brief survey of the post–Cold War international context. I then analyze contemporary strategies: unilateral liberalization, integration with the United States, sub-

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