Yanqui Come Back?

As Manuel Zelaya and his supporters, both in Honduras and elsewhere, bitterly learned, the American retreat from engagement in Latin America is not all it was cracked up to be for the Chavistas and their supporters. Jorge Castaneda, the longtime professor of Latin American affairs and one time Mexican foreign minister, calls for the Yanquis to come back:

For the first time in centuries, the United States doesn’t seem to care much what happens in Latin America. [. . .] While the region has reason to cheer this turn in U.S. policy, it simply can’t afford for the United States to disappear. On matters such as immigration, free trade, and the battle against corruption, almost nothing can be done without U.S. cooperation or leadership. [. . .] Economic development in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America is hardly conceivable, let alone possible, without a significant U.S. contribution, both monetary and conceptual. Building up infrastructure, stabilizing currencies, and establishing effective and transparent antitrust institutions are tasks that countries cannot carry out alone, given their integration with the U.S. economy.

More . . .

Many of the region’s traditionally anti-interventionist nations--Mexico, Brazil, Argentina--are coming to understand the need to anchor Latin America’s democracy in a strong, intrusive, and detailed legal framework, the same way that free-trade agreements, as well as World Bank and IMF programs, have solidified economic policies that are finally yielding results. The United States must be part of this framework, to coax these countries along and to bestow credibility upon whatever is built. Many of the institutions that enshrine this emerging consensus [. . .] would be meaningless, like the League of Nations, if Washington were not a part of them.

They seem pretty meaningless now, because the U.S. is not truly engaged in them. I see nothing on the horizon to change that soon.

Castaneda points to Chavez, and Peru and Colombia, as a potential flash point (he concedes that Zelaya in Honduras, Castro's Cuba and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua do not even amount to head raisers for the U.S.):

Colombia is Chávez’s ongoing obsession. He cannot bring this country into his orbit electorally, but he could conceivably try to move it into his column through other means--revolution, insurrection, pressure from across the border. Peru, the more likely candidate for his meddling, will hold elections in 2011 under highly adverse circumstances, with its (unjustly) unpopular ruling party and no viable centrist alternative to the Chavista, Ollanta Humala. In either case, successful Venezuelan involvement would in all likelihood trigger a U.S. response of one type or another. These countries are simply too large, with too many U.S. investments and a central role in the drug trade.

It's possible I suppose but I think Castaneda has a higher opinion of Chavez's ability to meddle than I do. For the foreseeable future, the Yanquis ain't coming back.

Speaking for me only

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    Nobody here cares (none / 0) (#1)
    by MKS on Mon Dec 28, 2009 at 03:37:23 PM EST
    Staying out is better than the past interventions....

    But an enlightened, active cooperation would be better...Simply not going to happen though--unless people here get scared the Chinese will coopt Latin America....

    seriously (none / 0) (#2)
    by beowulf on Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 10:02:32 AM EST
    Call it benign neglect but the less the US meddles in Latin American affairs, the better for them and us.