Latin America and the Caribbean in the International System

By G. Pope Atkins | Go to book overview

nomic Order declined; alignment was no longer an issue in the former instance, and the demise of the Soviet Union reduced the leverage of the latter.

Mexico and the United States fundamentally reoriented their policies toward one another. As inter-American tensions eased in the latter 1980s, Mexico abandoned its protectionist trade and investment policies and pressed the United States for a free- trade agreement. The United States responded positively, and Canada, in order to protect itself from trade diversion, joined in. The historic trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect on January 1, 1994. Mexico also broadened its external relationships, as reflected in its free-trade talks with the EU.

Changes were extensive in the circum-Caribbean, where East-West conflict had been most dramatic. The Soviet Union actually became a part of the Central American peace process, ceasing its weapons transfers to Cuba and Nicaragua and pressuring them to end arms deliveries to insurgents in El Salvador. With the decline of Soviet power and then the breakup of the Soviet Union itself, commitments to Cuba were reduced and then virtually canceled. Cuba itself was internationally isolated and absorbed with its internal problems. The Central American peace process suffered delays and other problems after 1987 but also enjoyed considerable success; the United Nations and the Organization of American States provided critical assistance, and the United States eventually supported it. The U.S. unilateral military intervention in Panama in 1990, and its guiding role in the UN-sponsored peacekeeping operation in Haiti beginning in 1994, indicated that the United States was still willing to use armed compulsion in the area even in the post-cold war era.

The UN roles in the Central American peace process and in Haiti represented a historic juncture, in that the UN had formerly deferred to the Inter-American System on such matters.


NOTES
1.
William K. Thompson, "The Regional Subsystem," International Studies Quarterly 17 ( March 1973): 89-117. Thompson inventoried and evaluated twenty-one attributes that had been proposed by eighteen analysts to define a regional subsystem.
2.
This notion also implies that a Latin American policy of the United States (or of any other entity) is an outdated concept--if one cannot treat the region as a whole, then pursuing a regional foreign policy is futile.
3.
A large number of broad-gauged studies from history, political science, and economics have detailed Latin American international relations from a region-wide perspective, while acknowledging subregional and country realities. An early, complete, and still-useful history is J. Fred Rippy , Latin America in World Politics, 3d ed. ( New York: F. S. Crofts, 1938); see also J. Fred Rippy , Globe and Hemisphere ( Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1958). More recent histories are Harold Eugene Davis, John J. Finan, and F. Taylor Peck, Latin American Diplomatic History. An Introduction ( Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1977); Demetrio Boersner, Relaciones Internacionales de América Latina: Breve Historia, 4th ed. ( Caracas: Nueva Sociedád, 1990); and Lester D. Langley, America and the Americas. The United States in the Western Hemisphere ( Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989). A broad range of phenomena in

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