Will Latin America Miss U.S. Hegemony?

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

For decades, the standard framework for describing and understanding U.S.-Latin American relations has been the overwhelming hegemonic power of the “colossus of the north.” Now, though, with the rise of regional powers like Brazil, the importance of new emerging economies like China, and the diversity of political and economic models in the region, policymakers and observers are beginning to discuss the decline of U.S. power in the region. Whether real or perceived, the effects of waning U.S. influence are already shaping countries’ calculations in their domestic and foreign policies and the formation of multilateral alliances. What are the implications of the perceived decline of U.S. hegemony for Latin America? This article explores the possible facets of the decline of U.S. influence in the region. It will start by examining whether, indeed, the United States’ ability to shape outcomes or impose its preferences in the region has diminished or shifted in how it must conduct diplomacy. Second, it will examine the possible outcomes of diminished influence. Finally, this article will consider the times when there have been a convergence of values and interest between the United States and governments in the region, and the likely effect that diminished U.S. power will have on areas of common interest: democracy, human rights, and the peaceful resolution of intra-regional conflicts.