WHY ATTEND THIS FORUM?
Ever since President James Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the U.S. has considered Latin America its backyard. Now more than ever, it’s time for Washington policymakers to reconsider this unfounded assumption. The vast majority of Latin Americans have always viewed with distaste the notion of being a “backyard.” From the outset of the twenty-first century, a sizeable number of governments have vocally rejected U.S domination, more so than in the past. They have taken steps toward promoting Latin American unity while questioning the utility of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose headquarters are located in Washington and has historically been dominated by the United States.
A string of progressive Latin American governments that firmly rejected U.S. interventionism in the region came to power beginning in 1998 in Venezuela, followed by Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Paraguay. Washington attempted to destabilize several of these governments and in some cases supported regime change efforts spearheaded by the right-wing opposition by undemocratic means. Beginning in 2019, Washington supported a right-wing pushback throughout the continent, which included the military overthrow of President Evo Morales in Bolivia that the OAS played a major role in helping legitimize. Nevertheless, beginning with the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico in 2018, a second wave of progressive governments have been elected to office. Now, in addition to most of the nations of the first wave, Mexico, Colombia and Chile are now in the progressive camp.
The domestic policies favored by Washington politicians, specifically those of the Democratic Party, include social programs in favor of the poor and working class, as well as government intervention in the economy, but these same political leaders support right-wing governments in Latin America that follow the opposite line: pro-business “neoliberal” policies that do so much harm to the popular sectors of the population. Neoliberalism gives the private sector a free hand through deregulation, including the rescinding of laws designed to protect the environment. Thus on issues related to the underprivileged, the working class, the environment and democracy itself. many U.S. politicians in Washington have two sets of standards, one for domestic politics and the other for Latin American politics.
United States sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua are blatant examples of intervention in the affairs of other nations, which is illegal by international law, and of the violation of national sovereignty, namely the right of citizens to determine the destiny of their nation. Furthermore, U.S. sanctions and other interventionist policies have been thoroughly denounced not only by Latin Americans, but nations throughout the world. This November, 185 nations voted in the UN General Assembly to condemn the US. embargo on Cuba, with only the U.S. and Israel voting against the resolution.
The end result of the repudiation of U.S. interventionist policies in Latin America may be the demise of Pan-Americanism and the OAS’s complete loss of authority. Alternative Latin American organizations, such as CELAC and UNASUR, which are dedicated to Latin American integration and unity, may in the future fill the gap.
The Latin America and Caribbean Policy Forum: “In Search of a New U.S. Policy for a New Latin America: Burying 200 Years of the Monroe Doctrine” will be the space to discuss and analyze the current political situation in Latin America and the imperative of framing a new U.S. policy for the 21st century that will improve our relations with the regional community.