After the introduction of the Monroe Doctrine by James Monroe, in the nineteenth century, influence from outside powers in Central and South America had been strategically limited to the United States. It is a doctrine that shaped the Cold War, and has served to deter international meddling the United States’ southern neighbors in the Americas.
On Monday, Kerry stated that the United States would no longer “step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America.” That stands in contrast to US policy since the fifth president of the United States sought to support fledgling republics in Latin America — many of which had been inspired by the United States’ own revolution.
Over the past few decades, Latin-American dependence on US policy has waned for a number of reasons, including distracted US diplomacy, as well as a desire from Latin-American powers to decrease their economic dependence on a single market.
Some states in the region are wooing international interests, and destabilization remains a widely held concern. Iran, for example, has made inroads in the region by partnering closely with Venezuela, along with a few other progressive nations which have been following the lead of Hugo Chávez’s socialist policies. It’s not clear which of the two countries initiated the odd partnership, but the results have been inflammatory.
Additionally, China has made its economic might felt through billions of dollars injected into throughout the region — including US$70 billion worth of loans. That is more than the entire annual economic output of Guatemala. The loans have predominantly gone into Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and Ecuador.
Ana Quintana, a research associate with the Heritage Foundation, says that Kerry’s announcement reflects a “weak and essentially ineffective regional policy [in need of] a serious overhaul.” However, “his hollow statements fall short.”
“Not only are Secretary Kerry’s statements shortsighted and give the impression of weakness,” she said, “they also serve to reward bad behavior. Kerry focused on only calling out Cuba as the last nondemocratic country in the Western Hemisphere and had the audacity to refer to the ‘Cubanization’ of Venezuela simply as a weakening of democratic institutions.”
Read Ana Quintana’s full statement on The Canal blog.