World Upside Down

To what extent is it possible for less powerful states to influence the behavior of great powers? Do weaker states possess sufficient agency to advance their own objectives? These fundamental questions lie at the heart of Tom Long’s Latin America Confronts the United States. Through an examination of four case studies he finds that, indeed, Latin American states have found success adopting strategies of cooperation with the United States in their efforts to advance their interests. In the process, Long contributes a historical narrative of his selected cases and advances an internationalist framework for understanding U.S.-Latin American relations.

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Despite its proximity and importance, Latin America usually does not receive a lot of attention in U.S. elections. After Donald Trump’s shocking and ultimately successful campaign for the presidency, the region may miss being out of the limelight. Somewhat atypically, many of Trump’s campaign promises related to Latin America. Mexico was, and remains, Trump’s villain of choice from the first day of his unlikely campaign. Mexico supposedly sent criminals as immigrants and bested the United States in the countries’ deep trade relationship; Trump granted the Mexican government a level of astuteness and competence that must have surprised many Mexican citizens. Central American migrants, whose remittances are more important to their home states in relative terms, also came under fire. In recent days, Trump has aimed his Twitter feed at transnational, and U.S.-born, street gangs, casting all the blame on neighbors to the south. Trump’s initially pacific tone toward Cuba soured as the campaign progressed. His anti-trade proposals go beyond renegotiating or threatening to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and abandonment of the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), and would cut to the core many Latin American countries’ economic strategies, in which access to the U.S. market is the lynchpin.

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