W. RAYMOND DUNCAN
Given the dramatic transformation in world politics during the 1990s, Latin American scholars have been interested in how such changes have impacted on countries south of the Rio Grande.1 Several global trends affecting Latin America in the 1990s have drawn attention—such as globalization and interdependence, illegal immigration, emerging democratic governments, and the region’s turn toward market economies and trade organizations. of particular interest—and focus of this essay— have been the consequences of the breakup of the former Soviet Union and cold war’s end, collapse of Soviet and East European Communist Party rule, and termination of the Moscow-based Warsaw Pact.2
Interest in how the collapse of the Soviet union and cold war politics has impacted Latin America is understandable. For more than three decades—beginning in the early 1960s when Havana aligned itself with Moscow and deposited the cold war just ninety miles from Key West, Florida—Soviet and Soviet-backed Cuban activities in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere in the Third World fired up a U.S. foreign policy in Latin America almost exclusively preoccupied with Soviet and Cuban activities.3 Now, decades later, with cold war adversarial relations between Washington, D.C., and Moscow over and Havana no longer backed by the Soviet Union, another chapter in Latin American politics and U.S.-Latin American relations has unfolded.
The era beginning with the USSR’s demise in the early 1990s until today finds Russia marginalized on the Latin American scene compared to its cold war years—yet not completely out of the picture. Russian foreign policy analysts continue to tilt toward geopolitical perceptions of world affairs and spheres of interest—as they did during the cold war—and today’s Russian specialists make the point that Moscow needs to strengthen its position in the Latin American region.4 This is so, they argue, owing in part to Latin America’s geostrategic proximity to the U.S.—a key reason why Moscow was attracted to Cuba after its 1959 revolutionary tensions