The Globalization of U.S.-Latin American Relations: Democracy, Intervention, and Human Rights

The Globalization of U.S.-Latin American Relations: Democracy, Intervention, and Human Rights

The Globalization of U.S.-Latin American Relations: Democracy, Intervention, and Human Rights

The Globalization of U.S.-Latin American Relations: Democracy, Intervention, and Human Rights

Synopsis

Through the shifting prisms of democracy, intervention, and human rights, Bouvier and her contributors analyze the impact of globalization on U.S.-Latin American relations. They address the changing nature of and responses to U.S. interventions, the links between democracy at home and abroad, and the growing consensus around human rights issues and norms.

Excerpt

Whenever the term “intervention” crops up in a discussion of inter-American relations, it is almost always employed to designate the invasion of Latin American territory by U.S. armed forces. Using that definition, there have been about forty instances of unilateral U.S. intervention in Latin America during the twentieth century. Although those interventions represent a significant historical legacy that conditions the thinking and behavior of today's foreign policy officials, particularly Latin Americans, they do not help us understand much about contemporary inter-American relations, because armed interventions have become fairly infrequent. Unlike the first part of the twentieth century, today invasions constitute an extreme form of behavior. What has happened over the course of the twentieth century is that the United States has gradually developed a panoply of more subtle mechanisms to encourage Latin Americans to behave as Washington wishes. In the process, the term “intervention” has been redefined.

Perhaps the best way to understand today's intervention is to begin with an example—the contemporary U.S. policy of promoting democracy in Latin America—and, to make the example specific: the effort of the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) to promote democracy in Nicaragua, a tiny, poverty-stricken Central American country whose government has rarely been considered democratic. AID's 1998 budget request outlined the problems Nicaragua faced:

Civil society institutions must take hold and provide an outlet for people to express their interests. Local authorities must exercise more power relative to national gov-

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