U.S. – Latin American Relations: Paternalism to Partnership [Opinion]

That's why one of the most exciting initiatives in some time is the Pacific Alliance, which includes Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, four nations seeking to integrate their economies, financial sectors, and labor forces to increase market weight and drive global competitiveness. Others in Latin America and even outside the hemisphere are also seeking to join. This is a homegrown alliance that is an excellent example of four strong democracies recognizing the need for additional steps to improve competitiveness, and unwilling to wait for others to give them permission to do so.

It offers strategic opportunity for the United States. Coupled with the nations of North America, the nations of the Pacific Alliance should be invited to a new trade and economic forum that would be dedicated to making concrete progress on economic issues among willing nations. By breaking out of the restrictive Summit of the Americas straightjacket, the United States can give a significant and appropriate boost to the open regionalism that has long characterized Asia-Pacific relations and can serve as a basis for more effective policy in the Americas. Other nations can then join the group according to their own timetables and readiness.

Vice President Biden got it right: U.S. relations with Latin America and the Caribbean have matured from paternalism to partnership. This means that the United States must be willing to pursue closer relations with those nations willing and able to partner with us, while refusing to be anchored to nations who see their interests apart from the United States. A near-term meeting among the leaders of North America and the nations of the Pacific Alliance could well be the spark to institute a better, more workable model for the Americas.

Eric Farnsworth is the Vice President of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. His opinions are not necessarily those of Fusion or its parent companies.

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