Why the U.S. can't afford to ignore Latin America
President Obama speaks with Guatemala President Otto Perez, right, and Chile President Sebastian Pinera, left, in April.
June 13th, 2012
11:47 AM ET

Why the U.S. can't afford to ignore Latin America

Editor's note: Christopher Sabatini is the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly and senior director of policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas. Ryan Berger is a policy associate at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. The views in this article are solely those of Christopher Sabatini and Ryan Berger.

By Christopher Sabatini and Ryan Berger, Special to CNN

Speaking in Santiago, Chile, in March of last year, President Obama called Latin America “a region on the move,” one that is “more important to the prosperity and security of the United States than ever before.”

Somebody forgot to tell the Washington brain trust.

The Center for a New American Security, a respected national security think tank a half-mile from the White House, recently released a new series of policy recommendations for the next presidential administration. The 70-page “grand strategy” report only contained a short paragraph on Brazil and made only one passing reference to Latin America.

Yes, we get it. The relative calm south of the United States seems to pale in comparison to other developments in the world: China on a seemingly inevitable path to becoming a global economic powerhouse, the potential of political change in the Middle East, the feared dismemberment of the eurozone, and rogue states like Iran and North Korea flaunting international norms and regional stability.

But the need to shore up our allies and recognize legitimate threats south of the Rio Grande goes to the heart of the U.S.’ changing role in the world and its strategic interests within it.

FULL POST

November 6th, 2011
07:14 PM ET

Santos holds the line against the FARC - and wins

Editor's Note: Christopher Sabatini is editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly and senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas. Ryan Berger is policy advisor at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Christopher Sabatini and Ryan Berger.

By Christopher Sabatini and Ryan Berger - Special to CNN

What a difference a decade makes. The successful operation on Friday by Colombia’s armed forces that killed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla kingpin Guillermo León Sáenz - known by his nom de guerre Alfonso Cano - represents another in a series of victories for President Juan Manuel Santos and his counterinsurgency strategy. Santos’s security policy, built on his predecessors’ Andrés Pastrana and Álvaro Uribe, has put the defeat of the FARC in sight - after the 1990s when the region’s longest running civil war appeared to have reached a stalemate.

While Marxist-inspired guerrilla movements from Guatemala to Argentina put down their arms in the 1980s and 1990s - the result of peace negotiations and democratic transitions - the FARC rebels and the National Liberation Army (ELN) have plagued Colombia for nearly five decades. Both forces claim to represent Colombia’s peasants and at times have managed to control large swaths of territory in Colombia’s rugged rural areas. Though they claim to represent the class struggle, both of the groups long ago became little more than armed criminal syndicates bankrolled by the drug trade in cocaine and other narcotics, illicit commerce in gems, extortion and kidnapping.

FULL POST

Behind the Chávez-Ahmadinejad “bromance”
Former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi welcomes Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez upon his arrival in Tripoli on October 22, 2010.
October 21st, 2011
04:28 PM ET

Behind the Chávez-Ahmadinejad “bromance”

Editor's Note: Christopher Sabatini is editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly and senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas. Ryan Berger is policy advisor at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas.

By Christopher Sabatini and Ryan Berger - Special to CNN

The revelation of the strange plot of the Iranian Quds Force’s allegedly contracting a Mexican criminal gang to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. has brought attention to Iranian activities and Islamic extremism south of the U.S. border.   Such concerns are nothing new, and since 9/11 a number of reports and allegations have been made of Iranian collusion with governments and the activities of groups like Hezbollah in the hemisphere.

The focus of most of those has been Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.  The fiery, populist former lieutenant colonel’s courting of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - and his unabashed anti-Americanism and stated declarations to challenge imperialism - have led to all sorts of speculation regarding the degree of intimacy between Caracas and Tehran. FULL POST

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