of Stephen Johnson, Senior Policy Analyst for Latin America, Heritage
FoundationHearing of the House International Relations Western Hemisphere
Subcommittee, March 9, 2005
Precarious Balance in Latin America
Stephen C. Johnson
Senior Policy Analyst for Latin America
The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis
Institute for International Studies
The Heritage Foundation
Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
U.S. House of Representatives
March 9, 2005
Burton, ranking member Menendez, distinguished members of the
you for inviting me to testify on this important subjectthe
state of democracy in Latin America. I commend you for undertaking
this inquiry at a propitious time when democratic advances in
the hemisphere seem to beif not at a standstillin
danger of sliding backwards. While that may not be clearly evident
in all countries, fledgling democratic institutions are now seriously
challenged by a number of factors. It is only right that we consider
whether to make course corrections in our efforts to protect and
candidate George Bush promised to revitalize U.S. engagement in
the western hemisphere making this the Century of the Americas,
it was in recognition of some of the work left undone since the
end of the Reagan Administration when the majority of the hemispheres
citizens began electing their leaders. Then, the United States
vigorously promoted democratic governance in Central America as
an alternative to dictatorship and an antidote to Soviet-backed
insurgencies. Yet, once Central America adopted electoral democracy
and civil conflicts were mended with peace accords, our government
began shifting money for democracy promotion to the former Soviet
republics. Since September 11, the United States has understandably
concentrated its focus on defeating global terror and bringing
democracy to the Middle East.
while we have been engaged elsewhere, some would say smoldering
embers have caught fire again in our own neighborhood. Mexicos
hopes for greater democracy have made slow progress during the
Fox Administration, stymied by a recalcitrant congress and the
reticence of political dinosaurs that still dominate its political
parties. Central America is being ravaged by crime. Wobbly democracies
in South America have taken a decided turn to the populist left.
Colombia has made steps in the right direction, but those are
now threatened by an emerging dictatorship in Venezuela that has
designs beyond its borders.
which has occurred since humans began trodding the earth, has
shrunk the distance between formerly isolated populations allowing
people to communicate instantaneously and migrate at will. What
happens in the prisons of Los Angeles affects the police in San
Salvador and vice versa. While globalization enables cultural
exchange and trade, it also facilitates drug and arms trafficking
as well as terrorism. Globalization cannot be stopped, anymore
than we can turn back the clock on progress in the way we live.
But our governments must learn to cooperate in a more globalized
way to keep up with criminals and terrorists who see national
borders as little more than inconvenient lines in the sand.
us not misunderstand. In 1980, six out of 23 Latin American nations
could be described as democracies. By 1992, 21 out of 23 countries
had elected leaders in competitive contests. But since then, progress
has gone flat. Few people want to return to authoritarian regimes
of the past, yet public disappointment with the current manifestation
of democracy is palpable. In partnership with our neighbors, we
must address incomplete reforms that mask continuing autocratic
and feudal era practices. In general, U.S. support for democracy
in Latin America should:
Encourage more direct representation. Political parties in many
countries are dominated by autocratic founders and senior operators,
not rank and file members. In many instances, leaders choose candidates
to run in general elections. In some cases, legislators are elected
at-large from national lists and do not represent local districts,
again lacking incentives to act accountably.
Promote greater separation of powers. Often, courts are subservient
to powerful presidents. Legislatures may be subservient to powerful
party leaders that may include the president or be allied with
him. Weak district and local governments fail to provide an additional
check on impunity.
Strengthen local governance. Powerful presidents and centralized,
bottleneck bureaucracies often make poorly informed decisions,
function at a snails pace, and funnel money to favored local
politicians. They provide almost all operating revenues for local
governments and often take charge of programs local officials
could handle more effectively from filling potholes to running
Enhance rule of law and property rights. The regions governments
consider property rights a concession of the state, blocking working
classes from obtaining title to land or important possessions
through excessive red tape. Moreover, almost all Latin American
constitutions claim state ownership of subsurface minerals and
hydrocarbonsplacing these resources in the hands of corrupt
Promote citizenship. Work trumps education as a survival priority
in many poorer countries of the region. As a consequence, many
citizens never get far enough in school to learn about civic responsibilities
as well as expectations they should have for the performance of
trouble spots, the United States should more actively:
Help stabilize the northern Andean countries. The United States
must maintain security assistance and support for democratic institutions
in Colombia as it continues to make gains in its fight against
drug trafficking and terrorism. Elsewhere, we must redouble efforts
to help strengthen democratic governance and civil society. Democratic
institutions are under assault in Ecuador by an incumbent president
and in Bolivia by a populist agitators.
Contain Venezuelan president Hugo Chávezs hegemonic
designs. Although the United States should not enter a shouting
match with President Chávez, our government should firmly
point out where Venezuelas democracy has gone off its rails.
Moreover, U.S. officials must more actively engage regional allies,
listening as opposed to lecturing, quietly strengthening trade
and security relations to ward off temptations for them to accommodate
to a despot.
Strengthen relations with Southern Cone nations. While they may
be tilting toward nationalism and populism, they havent
abandoned democracy or their fledgling market economies. For the
moment, we should set aside differences to help them solidify
democratic and free market gains.
Encourage and participate in cooperative civilian and military
security arrangements. The United States has bilateral customs,
law enforcement, and military agreements, but grudgingly shares
databases on criminals and has yet to establish routine coordination
with Latin American governments on countering emerging threats
such as transnational crime, terrorism, or natural disasters.
Deny credit and resources to Fidel Castro. The United States should
maintain trade sanctions against the Castro regime. However, U.S.
officials should promote contact with Cuban democrats who represent
the future of the island as well as develop familiarity with regime
figures likely to play a role in a transition government.
Provide enhanced leadership to restore Haitis democracy.
Haitis interim government has not received all the money
pledged by international donors to rebuild damaged institutions,
coordination among donors is lacking, and public order has not
been established. The United States should help create a donors
oversight commission to guide Haitis recovery.
years ago, the United States began encouraging the adoption of
democracy and free markets as political and economic models for
the Americas and as an alternative both to communist subversion
advanced by the Soviet Union and Cuba and to military dictatorshipthe
prevailing system. This policy helped to defeat insurgencies and
return the militaries to their barracks. Now all of the countries
in the hemisphere celebrate competitive elections except Cuba
and Haiti, and most have adopted market economies in principle.
Yet, according to the 2004 Latinobarómetro poll, only 29
percent of citizens in the 18 Latin American countries say that
they are satisfied with democracyeven though they still
prefer democracy to authoritarianism 53 percent to 15 percent.
As few as 19 percent have positive feelings about market economies,
although they still prefer markets to state-run economies by more
than 50 percent in every country polled.
factor is that political parties are not wholly open to citizen
participation. In most countries, party leadersnot voterschoose
candidates for many elected offices such as town councilman and
a portion, if not all, of the seats in congress. These candidates
are elected from party lists in proportion to votes
for their respective parties. Once in office, they owe loyalty
to party bosses, not constituents. Cuba, of course, offers the
most notorious example of candidate lists selected by communist
party leaders and presented to citizens for simple approval. But
party leaders in Mexico also choose and filter their slates. Fortunately,
outside of Cuba, each of the regions countries has more
than one party.
dont always represent districts and are thus not directly
linked to constituents. In Colombia and Paraguay, senators are
elected at-large on a national ballot and are not bound to represent
any particular jurisdiction. Mexican legislators serve only one
term, so citizens from their states cannot re-elect them if they
do well or punish them with defeat if they stray from promises.
A constitutional amendment to permit re-election was recently
defeated in the Mexican senate at the urging of Institutional
Revolutionary Party leaders who felt it would dilute their control
Nicaragua, a unicameral legislature is elected from a national
list. In 2000, sitting president Arnoldo Alemán and former
Sandinista president Daniel Ortega pacted with representatives
to alter the constitution 2000 so they could take seats in the
National Assembly to obtain immunity from prosecution for any
crimes they may have committed. The maneuver was highly unpopular
with the public. To their credit, Nicaraguas assemblymen
lifted the immunity of Alemán after he left the presidency
so he could be tried on charges of diverting some $100 million
in public funds. However, sensing the current presidents
weakness, many parliamentarians are now seeking Alemáns
exhonerationagainst the tide of public opinion.
separation of powers sometimes fails to check executive excesses
so that public institutions can be easily manipulated. In Ecuador,
the judiciary names its own replacements. Yet it is so weak, that
beginning in November 2004, President Lucio Gutierrez dismissed
the Constitutional Court and threw out the Supreme Court replacing
magistrates with croniesmany with marginal qualifications.
At the same time, he created a new body of plainclothes secret
political police to harass and intimidate political opponents.
Ecuadors fragmented congress has little power to stop him.
year in Venezuela, Chávez loyalists in the National Assembly
voted to expand the Supreme Justice Tribunal from 20 to 32 members,
allowing the president to pack the court with cronies. So-called
provisional judges preside over many lower courts, allowing them
to be manipulated for political purposes. The National Electoral
Commission resides in the presidents hands as well. A recall
process initiated by Chávez loyalists is now directed at
eliminating opponents in the National Assembly. Soon, it could
easily become an elected version of the rubber stamp communist
assembly that exists in Cuba.
presidencies and bottleneck bureaucracies concentrate decision-making
in the hands of too few people making government sluggish and
unresponsive. Ministries in national capitals sit far from sources
of fresh information in specific localities, but generally make
most of the decisions and provide the money for local services
and programs. Weak local governments with limited taxation power
exist only to carry out their directives. Powerful presidents
tend to upset institutional continuity. As former Bolivian President
Jorge Quiroga points out, they often make immense changes
in government institutions, to be followed by the next politician
who makes his own sweeping changes. The most obvious
example is again Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. To paraphrase
Ambassador Robert Zoellick in his recent confirmation hearing
before the U.S. Senate, he won an election, did away with
his opponents, muzzled the press, limited the rule of law, and
packed the courts and national commissions with his cronies.
rule of law. The World Bank estimates that weak judiciaries and
corruption reduce annual growth by 15 percent in Latin America.
In colonial times, courts and police existed to protect wealthy
elites in poorly integrated societies. Although mixed races, pure
ethnic groups, and the working classes are more accepted in todays
societies, law enforcement is only now beginning to provide for
their public safety. Still, courts and police barely function
in Haiti. In Venezuela they have been manipulated to serve a budding
dictator. In Nicaragua, judgeships have been handed out to mostly
Sandinista party members. Courts are only gaining political independence
in Mexico with adversarial trials being tested in the state of
Nuevo León. Napoleonic codes and written trials still clog
courts with cases that last years. Thanks to local will and U.S.
administration of justice programs, case law and public, adversarial
trials in criminal courts are beginning to clean up the backlog
in 15 out of 23 Latin American countries.
recently formed civilian police forces are no match for delinquent
bands and youth gangs. Some ex-guerrillas and former soldiers
in El Salvador and Guatemala opted to become kidnappers and drug
traffickers in the 1990s. Youth gangs that proliferated in Los
Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s now have fraternal links with some
130,000 to 300,000 members in Mexico and Central America. Police
in southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have
insufficient numbers and resources to deal with them. In 1998,
Honduras had the highest murder rate in the hemisphere with 154
per 100,000 inhabitantstwo times greater than Colombia and
five times greater than El Salvador. By contrast, Honduras has
about 6,200 policeone per 1,100 inhabitants compared to
El Salvador with 17,000 or one per 383 citizens. Freedom House
reported in its 2004 Freedom in the World survey, that Honduran
police were underfunded, ill-trained, understaffed, and
property rights deny citizens the ability to make choices in their
own lives. According to the Heritage Foundations 2005 Index
of Economic Freedom, 14 out of 23 countries in the region have
either overly bureaucratic registration requirements, inadequate
protections, or they maintain laws that permit the government
to confiscate private property. In Venezuela, the government is
expropriating the countrys largest and most productive private
cattle ranch, purportedly to divide it into parcels to distribute
to landless farm workers. Wherever this has been tried, it often
results in lost efficiency and abandonment by intended custodians.
In almost all Latin American countries, constitutions give the
state exclusive rights over all subsurface minerals and hydrocarbons.
State petroleum monopolies keep private individuals from owning
an oil well, while corrupt politicians pocket profits and, in
Hugo Chávezs case, sell or deny petroleum to whomever
Regional Hot Spots
Northern Andes. Colombia is the linchpin of democracy in this
region. Not only is it one of the longest continuous democracies
in South America, but it is making step-by-step progress against
such threats as drug trafficking and rural terror groups. Although
its six-year development plan known as Plan Colombia ends this
year, the administration of President Alvaro Uribe has made strides
in revitalizing the economy, eradicating drug crops, strengthening
the judiciary, improving human rights practices, and bringing
about a negotiated peace.
to a contraction of 4.3 percent in 1999, Colombia experienced
3.7 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2003.
Last year, a record 178 metric tons of cocaine were captured by
Colombias police and military forces while the Anti-Narcotics
Police Directorate sprayed a record 136,555 hectares of coca and
3,060 hectares of opium poppy. Kidnappings have declined 60
percent from levels recorded in 2000. Some 10,000 prosecutors,
judges and criminal investigators have been trained in the new
oral adversarial trial system. A new human rights early warning
system is taking shape. Desertions and demobilizations from Colombias
three bandit armies have increased by 29 percent over last year.
However, further progress is threatened by Colombias neighbor
to the east.
President Hugo Chávez is a former coup plotter who has
manipulated his countrys laws and constitution to concentrate
power in his own hands. Now in control of the states single
most important industryoilhe has embarked on a quest
to destabilize neighbors like Colombia and assert his influence
over them. With access to more financial resources than Fidel
Castro ever had, he controls petroleum exports to Central America
and the Caribbean and can withhold shipments at whim as he did
to the Dominican Republic last year. Chávez could also
cut off overland commerce with Colombia, one of Venezuelas
most important trade partners. By strangling Venezuelas
private sector with draconian laws and exchange controls, he makes
the future of bilateral trade bleak anyway. More troubling are
his close relations with an allied insurgent army inside Colombiathe
Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia, or FARC, which shares Chávezs
socialist authoritarian ideology seeking to overthrow the elected
Ecuador, Colombian FARC financiers are said to be buying up real
estate in suburban Quito, while combatants resupply and relax
at camps near Lago Agrio in northern Sucumbíos Department.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan diplomats are reportedly advising the state
oil monopoly PetroEcuador. Like Chávez, President Gutierrez
is packing courts with crony judges and sending plainclothes policemen
to harass political opponents. In December he presented a new
media law to congress similar to the Ley Mordaza in Venezuela
that, if approved, will punish outlets that disseminate information
the presidency deems contrary to its interests. A poll released
March 3, 2005 in the newspaper El Comercio showed President Gutierrez
with a 37 percent approval rating while Ecuadors congress
hovers at 10 percent.
1985, Bolivia began an unprecedented era of democratic reform,
supported by free-markets and a 4 percent average annual economic
growth rate during the 1990s. Since 2000, however, successful
elimination of 90 percent of the country's illicit coca cultivation
caused the economy to contract. Excessive bureaucracy, weak rule
of law, and inadequate property rights blocked a rebound for citizens
living on less than $2 per day60 percent of Bolivias
population. Moreover, democratic reforms have not joined a fragmented
polity whose various constituencies hoped change would mainly
benefit their group. These include a majority indigenous population
that is poorly educated, a minority mixed class of political and
economic elites, the armed forces, and labor unions. Riots and
road blockades instigated by radical indigenous leaders over foreign
gas sales forced President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada to
resign in October 2003. His replacement Carlos Mesa had to move
to the populist left, holding a referendum on whether to take
partial control of the gas industry.
self-serving coca union leader and congressman Evo Morales and
community activist Abel Mamani of El Alto on the outskirts of
La Paz, have threatened to summon mobs and block roads if Bolivias
congress does not raise royalties on foreign gas companies to
50 percent. March 6, 2005, President Carlos Mesa submitted his
resignation to congress to rally support for his government and
turn Bolivians against destructive the mob tactics favored by
Morales and fellow radicals.
Cone. In the past 20 years or so, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay,
and Uruguay have replaced military regimes with elected governments.
Within the last 5 years, these democracies have largely moved
from the center right to moderate socialism. Among them, Chile
is the democratic linchpin and most open economically. Both Chile
and Brazil have strong industrial bases. By contrast, tiny agrarian
Paraguay is under threat from corrupt politicians, transnational
drug traffickers, local insurgents, and undocumented migrants
believed to support Middle Eastern terror groups. Colombias
FARC guerrillas are known to use Paraguay as a site for exchanging
drugs for guns. Recently captured FARC leader Rodrigo Granda allegedly
advised Paraguayan terrorist Osmar Martínez in kidnapping
and killing the daughter of former President Raúl Cubas
last year. Granda and Martínez reportedly met in Venezuela
in July 2004.
and Uruguay have demonstrated the greatest leftward swing since
the 2003 election of President Néstor Kirschner and the
March 1 inauguration of President Tabaré Vázquez,
respectively. In both countries misguided economic policies could
lead to unrest. Kirschner clings to populist rhetoric and an anti-industrial
economic model that taxes exports. A recent debt swap might keep
Argentina afloat temporarily along with commodity sales to China.
But Argentina is non-competitive and may have trouble obtaining
further credit after defaulting on $81 billion in bonds in 2001
(its fifth default since independence) and writing down its debt
to 35 cents on the dollar in 2005.
Uruguay, President Vázquezs proposed $100 million
spending measure to alleviate poverty could herald a return to
the welfare state. Although pressure from political opponents
and moderates in Vázquezs own Frente Amplio coalition
could keep him from adopting a more radical internal course, hardline
leftists are pushing for a realignment away from the United States.
Vázquez has renewed diplomatic ties to Cuba and struck
agreements with Venezuelas Hugo Chávez to buy oil
and establish a regional state-run TV channel in Uruguay to disseminate
populist, anti-U.S. propaganda.
America. Weak institutions, rising transnational crime and gang
violence, and high underemployment are taxing these fledgling
democracies. The eye of this storm is Nicaragua. But not all is
calm. President Enrique Bolaños is in trouble for attempting
to curb endemic corruption. At play is the Liberal Partys
desire to free former president, convicted embezzler, and current
Liberal Party leader Arnoldo Alemán. Fellow Liberal deputies
have colluded with Sandinista opponents in the National Assembly
to weaken his powers and force him from office. The real winner
is the Sandinista National Liberation Front which has played along
in exchange for judgeships and control over important national
commissions. Poised for a comeback in the 2006 presidential elections
is former Sandinista comandante Daniel Ortega, whose campaign
will likely attract financial support from Venezuelan president
and Haiti. Fidel Castros 45-year-old dictatorship in Cuba
blocks the realization of the dreams and aspirations of 11 million
citizens. Though no longer a direct threat to the United States,
Cuba remains hostile, sharing electronic espionage and warfare
capability with China and offering support for and solidarity
with international terrorist groups. Tighter U.S. sanctions have
caused Castro to make erratic decisions such as withdrawing circulation
of U.S. dollars on the island and prohibiting citizens from talking
with American visitors. Venezuelas agreement to supply cheap
oil in exchange for intelligence officers and doctors has helped
Cubas command economy to the point that he has been able
to reverse grudgingly approved market reforms, such as limited
self-employment. Yet it seems likely that Castro sees his revolution
surviving mainly outside of Cuba, in countries like Venezuela
and poorer nations where he has sent legions of doctors and intelligence
Haiti, interim Prime Minister Gérard Latortue, his coalition
cabinet, and multinational peacekeeping forces from such countries
as Chile and Brazil, are helping Haiti recover from years of despotic
rule under former president Jean Bertrand-Aristide. However, the
pace of reconstruction is far too slow. Previous corruption has
emptied the treasury and broken public institutions. Aristide
still has access to millions of dollars he took from the government
and could be a lingering threat to stability. Current levels of
technical assistance by donor nations are inadequate and reconstruction
of public institutions has stalled. Haitis meager 4,000-member
police forceabout 1 officer for every 2,000 citizenscannot
address mounting violence and unrest. Other governments in the
Caribbean that misunderstood the U.S. role in Aristides
departure will be even less forgiving if rebuilding efforts collapse
and there is a refugee exodus.
What Is at Stake
for Mexico, the United States probably could survive without Latin
American markets, which account for less than 6 percent of U.Sworld
trade. American refiners can buy oil from other suppliers besides
Venezuela, which provides roughly 7 percent of U.S. consumption.
But U.S. peace and security depend on a stable neighborhood and
on more prosperous neighbors. Unfortunately as Latin Americas
population has expanded, its economy has recently fallen behind.
From 1999 to 2003, the regions population grew from 503.1
million inhabitants to 534.2 million. Its aggregate economy declined
slightly from $1.8 trillion in to $1.7 trillion. Nearly 44
percent of the regions citizens live below the $2 a day
poverty line. Such factors impact the United States in lost potential
trade, states that teeter on the edge of instability, and migrants
who illegally enter the U.S. seeking safety and economic opportunity.
for Europe and some Asian countries such as India, Japan, and
the Philippines, no region should be as favorably disposed toward
democracy and open markets. Latin American leaders have generally
aspired to Western-style democracy and markets, exemplified by
numerous constitutions and laws that mirror the U.S. system. Yet,
individual rights, free choice, and equal opportunity clash with
colonial traditions of imposed rule and corporatist segregation
of economic classes and ethnic groups. Without adequate support
for reforms that go beyond elections and free trade, the regions
democratic progress could backslide.
What the United States Should Do
be sure, Latin America needs to be the author of its own success.
And thanks to the struggles of courageous, insightful Latin American
democrats, it largely is. But interested parties like the U.S.
government should provide long-term, focused engagement. Above
all, U.S. policymakers and lawmakers should consider reversing
two overarching trends in assistance programs and foreign communications.
the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) says that
its two top regional priorities are to improve governance and
promote economic growth, U.S. Congressional appropriations reflect
such priorities as food aid, health, and environmental protection.
Gains in these areas are easily wasted by bad governance. The
new Millennium Challenge grants totaling $2.5 billion for FY 2004
and 2005 seek to reward nations that govern justly, fight corruption,
and open their markets. Yet one grantee, Nicaragua, is one the
verge of ousting a president because he is fighting corruption,
while another, Bolivia, is closing its energy markets and scaling
back counter-narcotics cooperation with the United States.
diplomacy programs that used to provide scholarships help Central
American students study in the United States in the 1980s and
fund subject matter exchanges in the early 1990s have been drastically
cut. The Broadcasting Board of Governors has curtailed much of
our Voice of America programming toward Latin America. The public
affairs and science programming that is left does not complement
U.S. development goals. Meanwhile, Cuban doctors distributing
free medicine in Venezuela and Honduras are reportedly ramping
up propaganda efforts, playing videos that extol the triumphs
of Cubas revolution to patients waiting in their clinics.
policies to strengthen democracy in Latin America must be accompanied
by those that also reinforce economic freedom and collective security,
since democracy cannot thrive without markets or state control
over national territory. However, with regard to the regions
democratic challenges, U.S. policy should:
Encourage more direct representation. Democracy must go beyond
elections to put authority in its proper placeat the service
of all free citizens. USAID democracy programs, International
Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute projects
should highlight the responsibility of legislators to represent
specific districts and individuals. Seminars and subject matter
exchanges should include discussions of constituent service. Consultations
with parties should urge party leaders to allow voters to choose
candidates for general elections. Voice of America radio and TV
programming should include discussions and documentaries on this
Promote greater separation of powers. Robust legislatures and
judiciaries should balance presidential power. U.S. democracy
programs should advocate constitutional models that insulate these
branches from presidential meddlingfrom electing parliamentarians
at the same time the president is chosen to raising the level
of congressional approval necessary to seat or remove judges.
Reforms may vary from country to country, but models should be
kept in a best practices list supported and maintained by the
Organization of American States (OAS).
Strengthen local governance. Governments should be decentralized
so that officials at local, district, and national levels handle
just those matters that logically correspond to their jurisdiction.
U.S.-funded studies should investigate ways to devolve some tax
collection to municipalities to give them budgetary independence
from the national government. Such research should also address
how national bureaucracies such as education ministries can function
more efficiently under local control.
Enhance rule of law and property rights. Continued support for
judicial reforms should help modernize criminal codes, separate
judicial and prosecutorial functions, and establish public defender
offices to represent the poor. Congress should amend Section 660
of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to allow more flexible support
for training foreign police and collateral law enforcement agencies
to enable closer collaboration on curbing transnational threats.
USAID governance programs could promote the adoption of cadastres
and simple land titling systems. They could also cover how individual
claims to subsurface rights have helped America develop resources
and create individual wealth instead of feeding corrupt state
Promote citizenship through public diplomacy and civic education
programs to inform citizens of their rights and responsibilities
in marginally democratic societies where such concepts are not
well understood. Moreover, Congress and USAID should reallocate
money it spends on health and environmental projects to enhance
basic education so citizens can read, write, and understand political
concepts in countries like Bolivia and Haiti.
trouble spots, the United States should more actively:
Help stabilize the northern Andean countries. Since the inception
of Plan Colombia, U.S. assistance and Congressional oversight
has helped turn the tide against local drug production and rural
terrorism, as well as strengthen public institutions in a country
willing to undertake those reforms. Failure to stay that course
could destabilize neighboring Panama, Ecuador, and Peru. Ecuadors
democracy is now at risk with a president willing to bend laws
to suit his objectives. The United States should maintain solidarity
with Ecuadoran democrats by urging President Gutierrez to use
legal and consensual means to carry out his programs. In Bolivia,
U.S. officials should urge all parties to abide by Bolivian law
and reject mob coercion. Public diplomacy outreaches should be
redoubled to indigenous communities to kindle moderate voices
Contain Venezuelan president Hugo Chávezs hegemonic
designs. U.S. officials should continue to refrain from war of
words with Venezuelas volatile president who likes to call
his adversaries vulgar names. Yet, they should use every opportunity
to advocate a retreat from authoritarian policies that curtail
civil liberties and support for terrorists like the FARC guerrillas
in Colombia. The United States should also promote continued international
scrutiny of human rights and of Venezuelas battered democratic
institutions so that Venezuelan democrats will not lose hope.
Most of all, U.S. contact with the leaders and peoples of neighboring
countries must be more frequent and collaborative to avoid a vacuum
Mr. Chávez desperately wants to fill. U.S. Congressional
approval of free trade agreements with Central America, the Dominican
Republic, Panama, and the Andean nations will be crucial toward
Improve relations with Southern Cone nations. Despite their leftward
tilt, the United States should move forward with trade negotiations,
including a bilateral investment treaty with Uruguay. Commercial
sectors in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay will have moderating
influences on populist policies. Enhanced trade relations with
the United States will help ensure open markets for U.S. products,
and also help maintain the influence of this vital sector of society.
Encourage and participate in cooperative civilian and military
security arrangements. To counter transnational crime and terrorism
that threatens American democracies, the United States should
encourage regional partnerships based on day-to-day military-to-military
and civilian-to-civilian cooperation to promote common standards
and protocols. Already, Colombias attorney general has come
up with a concept to share databases among the regions prosecutors.
U.S. Southern Command, the Department of Justice, the State Department,
and the OAS Commission on Hemispheric Security should seek opportunities
to work with the regions military and law enforcement agencies
to promote interoperability of forces.
Deny credit and resources to Cubas Castro but build contacts
outside and within the regime. While maintaining its principled
trade sanctions policy, the United States should promote purposeful
contact with Cuban human rights and democracy activists who represent
the long-term future government of the island. Current public
diplomacy efforts to inform ordinary citizens must continue and
be enhanced. U.S. officials should become more familiar with armed
forces leaders and local governing officials likely to influence
a future transition from Castroite rule through third-country
contacts and opportunities to meet.
Provide enhanced leadership to restore Haitis democracy.
The Bush Administration should urge fellow international donors
to be timely and forthcoming with promised aid. Haiti needs a
larger, de-politicized police force to establish public order
and allow its interim government to operate. For the long-term,
it needs a donor supervisory commission to work with follow on
governments and non-governmental organizations to assure accountability
and coordinated efforts until democracy becomes self-sustaining.
Under no circumstances should the United States pursue a premature
exit strategy as it did in the Clinton Administration.
the United States should help strengthen the democratic orientation
of the Organization of American States by:
Enlisting regional allies to revitalize its democracy promotion
functions and human rights commission. Venezuelan president Hugo
Chávez is already urging members to abandon support for
democracy and civil liberties for a model that embraces a powerful
state and welfare rightshis proposed Social Charter
of the Americas. The United States should be actively engaged
in the OAS to keep authoritarianism from replacing the democratic
trajectory member nations have nourished over the past half century.
United States is a powerful and benevolent nation. As its strength
has evolved, so have its policies toward other nations. As we
all know, our government is not always consistent. It cannot be.
Policies rightly obey political currents of the day and budgetary
realities. In the last 20 years, we have come from pragmatic alliances
with regimes we did not like to nurturing their adoption of democracy
and open markets. However, sustained commitment is essential to
help deeper and more complete democracies and markets evolve from
elections and free trade.
based on free choice, not dictatorships, make good neighbors.
Open markets, not command economies, provide opportunities for
ordinary citizens to become prosperous. Sustained, consistent
policies undergird these reforms. They are the only way the United
States and its neighbors in the Americas can be partners in creating
jobs, self-fulfillment, and peace in hometowns throughout the
 InformeResumen, Latinobarómetro 2004, Una
Década de Mediciones, Corporación Latinobarómetro,
Santiago de Chile, August 13, 2004, pp. 4, 23, 38, 40.
In addition, five more judges were appointed to fill vacancies
and 32 persons were named as reserve judges. See Venezuela:
Chávez Allies Pack Supreme Court, Human Rights Watch,
December 14, 2004 at hrw.org/english/docs/2004/12/14/venezu9864.htm
(March 3, 2005).
Remarks at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business Schools
4th Latin American Regional Alumni Meeting, Miami, Florida, July
1012, 2003, at knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/073003_ss.html
(July 31, 2003).
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National
Liberation Army (ELN), and the United Self-Defense Force (AUC).
Sources: Embassy of Colombia at www.colombiaemb.org/opencms/opencms/plancolombia
(March 3, 2005) and the Inter-American Development Bank at www.iadb.org/exr/country/eng/colombia
(March 3, 2005).
2005 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, U.S. Department
of State, March 2005 at www.state.gov/g/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2005/vol1/html/42363.htm
(March 3, 2005).
Both Chávezs Fifth Republic Movement party and the
FARC are members of the Brazil-based Foro de São Pauloa
global organization that includes leftist parties and guerrilla
groups from 16 countries in the western hemisphere. Videos and
documents revealed by dissident Venezuelan military officers suggest
official promises of supplies and refuge as well as the existence
of several FARC fronts operating from the Venezuelan side of the
Colombia-Venezuela border. See Javier Ignacio Mayorca, 740
de las FARC en Venezuela, Venezuela Analítica, March
11, 2002, at www.analitica.com/va/vpi5521076.asp (April 1, 2002).
Mexico is Americas second largest trade partner behind Canada
with $220.2 billion in merchandise trade in 2002. Brazil ranked
15th with $26.8 billion. In 2002, most bilateral trade between
Latin American countries and the United States ranged between
$3 billion and $9 billion. See U.S. International Trade Commission,
Interactive Tariff and Trade DataWeb, at dataweb.usitc.gov
(August 29, 2003).
While the population of Latin America and the Caribbean has increased
from 503.1 billion to 534.2 billion from 1999 to 2003, Gross National
Income has declined from $1.8 trillion to $1.7 trillion according
to the Latin America & Caribbean Data Profile, World Bank
at www.worldbank.org/data/countrydata/countrydata.html (March
According to the National Intelligence Councils new study,
Mapping the Global Future, ineffective governance and the backwardness
of ruling elites could decrease Latin Americas influence
in world affairs and bar many of its countries from participating
in the global economy. See Mapping the Global Future,
Report of the National Intelligence Councils 2020 Project,
National Intelligence Council, Washington, DC, December 2004 at
of March 10, 2005, this document was also available online at