America now searches for a guiding principle for its relationship with Latin America, and that is a good thing, said former Ambassador to Venezuela Patrick Duddy in a keynote address in Washington, D.C. April 26.
Speaking to the annual gathering of the American Committees on Foreign Relations (ACFR), Duddy, director of Duke’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, spoke to the overall shifts in how the United States interacts with its southern neighbors and what the future may portend.
Titled “U.S. Interests in Latin America,” the 24th Annual ACFR Conference featured panels on everything from transnational crime and security cooperation to China and Russia’s inroads in the region.
Duddy’s keynote focused on large policy questions and asked what framework and belief system would guide American policymaking with the region in the future. In addition to deep economic ties (Latin America buys 43 percent of all the United States’ goods), America’s relationship with the southern hemisphere has taken on novel features.
Once relegated to a security relationship, the United States and Latin America now trade goods and services, culture, history and, often, aspirations. Originally encased in the Monroe Doctrine, where U.S. President James Monroe sought to prevent European forays into Latin America, America has long seen the southern half of the western hemisphere as its own backyard. Now, according to Duddy, Latin American countries now have the option to work with other nations around the world to solve their problems.
America and its southern neighbors are at a juncture, Duddy said. Once largely the prerogative of the United States, Latin American countries now call their own shots and plan their own futures. According to Duddy, America now has the opportunity to rethink its relationships with its southern neighbor for the next generation of hemispheric affairs.