Why the U.S. Can’t Ignore Latin America’s Security Challenges

Why the U.S. Can’t Ignore Latin America’s Security Challenges
Security personnel guard the Unasur building during the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Quito, Ecuador, Jan. 27, 2016 (AP photo by Dolores Ochoa).

Latin America and the Caribbean are dotted with potential crises and the worsening of any single challenge could have a destabilizing effect on the others. With U.S. security and prosperity tied closely to the region, policymakers in the United States need to be drafting policies that help improve economic and political stability from Mexico to Venezuela.

Although not always reflected in the attention of U.S. national security policymakers, no region other than Latin America and the Caribbean more directly affects the prosperity and security of the United States. As U.S. President Donald Trump and his team begin their work, mutually reinforcing dynamics and events in the region are poised to present Washington with expanded security challenges uncomfortably close to home.

Potential crises in the near-term span the region. In Mexico, mounting crime in the context of a new reality for relations with the United States could strain efforts to control the U.S. border and manage the challenge of transnational criminal organizations operating on both sides of it. In Central America’s Northern Triangle region—El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala—an expanded wave of gang violence, prompted in part by U.S. deportations, has driven a regional migrant crisis that could escalate. Venezuela’s government, which has overseen the country’s descent into political and economic chaos, is increasingly cooperating with Iran, China and Russia. At the same time, Cuba has lost Venezuela as its principal economic beneficiary; if Trump undercuts Havana’s hopes for access to U.S. markets, it could potentially expand relations with Russia and China as well. And in Colombia, where drug production is on the rise, a historic peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—the guerilla group known as the FARC—is inadvertently leading to the expansion of criminal gangs and guerrillas tied to the National Liberation Army, or ELN, another armed group.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.