Strategic Insights: The Dragon in the Tropics: China's Military Expansion into the Western Hemisphere [open pdf - 107KB]
"Despite the fact that Latin America has been an area of U.S. influence since 1823 with the establishment of the Monroe Doctrine, the region has been always relegated to an afterthought by U.S. foreign policymakers. Latin America, as J. D. Gordon stated, 'has largely remained a policy backwater for the United States, with America manifesting little by way of strategy toward the region, when it in fact noticed it at all.' This benign neglect posture by U.S. foreign policymakers has tremendous geopolitical and national security implications for the homeland in the 21st century. By neglecting Latin America, the United States has opened a door for external powers to fill the political vacuum left by the U.S., particularly antagonistic nations to U.S. hegemony in the region, such as Iran, Russia, and the People's Republic of China (PRC). These countries have quickly positioned themselves as an alternative to the lack of political interest on the part of the United States. Within the context of Latin American politics, the Chinese presence in the Western Hemisphere presents a new alignment of governments that have nurtured an anti-American foreign policy sentiment such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Brazil. In fact, China has entered into bilateral agreements with each of these Latin American countries. Those nations, while economically tied to the U.S. market, have recently taken a more confrontational position vis-à-vis the United States, thanks to their new foreign policy alignment with the PRC."
Army War College (U.S.). Strategic Studies Institute: http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/