Regional Assessment of South America   [open pdf - 494KB]

"In South America, the United States has a rare opportunity to foster the creation of a community of democratic, market-oriented neighbors. Young democracies are now commonplace in a continent once noted for its military dictatorships. Economically, the countries of the region have emerged from the debt crisis of the 1980s with a zealous belief in the advantages of export-oriented policies, privatization, and the elimination of trade and investment barriers. The United States should encourage these positive trends, while recognizing that the countries of South America are best able to chart their own course. It is a course not without obstacles. Although democratic governance now prevails, these are fragile democracies. Similarly, economic growth has left in its wake the problems of poverty and disparity of income. The drug trade, corruption, and crime pose additional challenges. These problems notwithstanding, the overall trends in the region are positive. Accordingly, the United States can afford to take a hands-off approach toward South America. The leaders of South America want to shape their own futures. This is fortuitous, as the United States has limited resources to assist the region. The United States can best promote its national interests in South America by focusing on the following over-arching policy objectives: strengthening the process of economic reform and regional economic integration, strengthening the commitment to democratic governance, rule of law, human rights, and constructive civilian-military relations, and strengthening cooperation aimed at the resolution of transnational issues, such as drug trafficking, crime, illegal migration, terrorism, and environmental degradation."

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