…It is commonly said that the US has taken its eye off Latin America in recent times, particularly since the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions. Therefore you will be forgiven for not following what has happened in the region since 2000. Venezuela was the first of eighteen countries to elect (and re-elect) progressive political parties into power. While far from perfect, the so-called “pink tide” has begun to address the shocking problems in their countries, such as poverty, inequality and national sovereignty. Venezuela in particular has been at the forefront of creating new regional institutions designed to replace the US-dominated Cold War organizations. For 500 years many Latin Americans felt the region had been under foreign domination, first European, later American. The continent, which was described by US officials as “America’s backyard”and “our little region over here that has never bothered anybody” has begun to free itself from US domination with alarming- or exhilarating depending on your political persuasion- speed. There is a general agreement among these nations that a precondition to genuine independence and integration was freeing themselves from US interference by setting up their own, independent institutions….
American power and prestige in Latin America has seriously declined since 2000. The US now does not have a permanent military base in South America, the only continent in the world where that is the case.South America was also the only continent where no country cooperated with the US rendition programme. South American countries are willing to grant asylum to Western dissidents like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Uruguay has granted asylum to victims of Guantanamo Bay torture. In 2009, no South American nation recognized Palestine. Today, all, bar Colombia, have done so. So much for “America’s backyard.”
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