Security in the Caribbean Basin: The Challenge of Regional Cooperation

By Joseph S. Tulchin; Ralph H. Espach | Go to book overview

16
Looking Ahead:
Regional Relations in the
Post-Cold War Era
Joseph S. Tulchin & Ralph H. Espach

As the twenty-first century begins, the Caribbean Basin has come under increasing tension. The trends in specific security issues described in these chapters—migration, drug trafficking, Cuba's growing isolation—continue as our authors predicted they would. Human migration and the smuggling of illegal goods have existed in the region in one form or another for centuries, and are likely to continue throughout the foreseeable future. 1 The troubling fact, however, is that the nations of the Caribbean have made scant progress in addressing these issues cooperatively. Bureaucratic, cultural, and other obstacles at the domestic level, economic hardship, ideological stubbornness, and even mother nature continue to hamper efforts at greater cooperation. In some cases there has even been backsliding. Across the region—including in the United States—there is a dearth of political vision in regional relations.

Nevertheless, the nations of the region—with the exception of Cuba—continue to share a commitment to democracy and support for liberalized economic relations. Interstate relations remain peaceful, and economic ties continue to increase. Also, the regional security policy of the United States remains largely incoherent, still fragmented along issue lines and institutional divisions, and therefore relatively flexible. As a result, the window of opportunity for improved regional relations is still open, even if the road to greater understanding and cooperation seems increasingly difficult.

In Washington, the Caribbean remains marginalized with the exception of Cuba, a political three-ring circus crowded with international and domestic special interests. With the decreasing popularity of NAFTA and international free trade in general, the Clinton administration spends little of its political capital on trade issues important to the Caribbean, such as NAFTA parity, and Congress remains

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