Why Latin America is Crucial to the Global Community

In the post-Cold War era, Latin America and the Caribbean have become increasingly important to the world. The region's vibrant cultures, its abundant agricultural resources, and its vast energy reserves have made it a major player in the global community, more so than at any other time since the colonial period. Unlike the European Union, there is no central governing body for Latin America, nor are there regional hubs of network centrality like China in Asia or Germany in Europe. Dr. Feldmann is an associate professor in the departments of Latin American and Latin American Studies and Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

For a comprehensive overview of major cities in Latin America and their histories, please refer to individual articles by name. If the state of intergovernmental organizations is any indication of regional cooperation in Latin America, then the outlook is not promising. The Colombian National Police has provided assistance to its counterparts in Mexico and Central America, offering training and sharing best practices and expertise in areas such as surveillance, money laundering, and drug cartel infiltration. Despite historical rivalries between certain countries, Latin America has a long history of collaboration in various fields. The collapse of Venezuela has had a profound impact on the continent, yet Latin American governments have been largely passive observers of the crisis. Beyond geography, Latin American economies are not complementary and show similar export patterns (based on livestock, crops, and mineral resources) as well as a lack of diversification.

On average, Latin American countries have received less than one-tenth of the per capita amount that other countries have received due to the Syrian refugee crisis. The international community can play a role in engaging Latin American countries with the aim of safeguarding 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), World Health Organization (WHO), and World Trade Organization (WTO).For a while, particularly until Hugo Chávez's death, Venezuela had considerable financial and political influence in Latin America. Governments across the Western Hemisphere were deeply divided in their responses to this situation, making it impossible to hold a regional summit with all heads of state. Not only did pre-contact geography remain intact in the United States but both newcomers and indigenous inhabitants maintained their respective characteristics for an extended period of time. It was this combination that determined many aspects of Latin American evolution. Regional governance is essential for helping Latin America overcome its many challenges. The international community can help by providing support through international institutions such as the OECD, Mercosur, OAS, WHO, and WTO.

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