Why is Latin America So Important?

Latin America is a region of immense importance to the United States. It is the largest source of imports and exports for the US, and has deep economic, cultural, and strategic ties with the country. This report makes it clear that the era of US dominance in Latin America is over. Latin America's history began in the 1500s with the European discovery of the New World.

Countries such as Spain, France, and Portugal colonized the region, decimating native populations due to war and disease. To meet their demand for free labor, they participated in the African slave trade, bringing millions of Africans to Latin America and creating a prominent African diaspora. By 1898, all Latin American countries had become independent nations. It is important to note that government and business in many Latin American nations are still largely controlled by people of Spanish and Portuguese descent. In terms of language, religion, ideals, and temperament, they are much more sympathetic to continental Europe than to England or the United States. The era of US dominance in Latin America is over, but this does not mean that there are no opportunities for cooperation between the US and Latin American countries.

For example, instead of discussing China's cybersecurity threat to 5G systems, there should be opportunities for collaboration in the future. Regional cooperation in Latin America is practically non-existent due to insurmountable ideological differences among heads of state and because regional diplomatic institutions have not fulfilled their purpose. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) can act as a catalyst to help mobilize tens of billions in annual investments to modernize infrastructure, upgrade to 5G and new digital technologies, and trigger a “green transformation” of Latin American economies. The international community can also play a role by participating in key democratic processes and institutions through international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Mercosur, the Organization of American States (OAS), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The US could encourage joint ventures to increase vaccine production and availability in the region. Latin America extends from Mexico in North America to Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and all of South America down to the bottom of the continent.

It is important for tourists to be aware that Latin Americans are sensitive about being called “tropical” when visiting temperate cities such as Lima, Peru. Latin America has also offered an interesting example in terms of implementing the powers of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. For more information on major cities in Latin America and their histories, see specific articles by name. The region's commitment to collective approaches based on a shared normative vision is evident in its numerous cooperation mechanisms and institutions, including the OAS diplomatic forum, the economic support structures of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean supported by the United Nations, and public health interests of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

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