In an interview in 1977, Mexico's President José López Portillo observed of U.S.-Mexican relations that "there are no isolated problems; everything is part of everything else." In 1980 no more appropriate maxim could be found to apply to U.S.-Latin American relations generally.
Significant and cumulative growth sustained over the three decades since the end of World War II has transformed Latin American societies and institutions, and with them the very nature of the U.S.-Latin American relationship. Neither the scenery nor the actors are quite the same: Latin America stands at the beginning of the 1980s as the most highly industrialized region in the developing world. It has more than tripled its real product since 1950; its population is almost two-thirds urban and three-fourths literate; its urbanization rates are the dizziest in the world. All the social indicators show major progress in the last 30 years; women have moved massively into the labor force and the educational system; while gaps and differences between large and small, richer and poorer, have stretched, the larger countries have-to use Walt Rostow's terms-moved through take-off and are deep in the drive to technological maturity. Finally, all the Latin American economies have become integrated into the world political economy through trade patterns, expanded investment, capital flows, and international debt, creating new and interlocking relationships with the international system.
The region's current dynamics can be thought of, then, as taking place in terms of three different dimensions:
1) a central hemispheric dimension embracing the many unique and varied elements of internal dynamics, national policies and struggles for identity within and among the Hemisphere's nations;
2) the cluster of issues making up the international agenda of trade, debt, capital flows and energy, which complement and affect national events and policies-all of which may be subsumed under the rubric the North-South dimension; and
3) an East-West dimension referring to the effect given to Hemisphere events by geopolitical factors; by the sharpened global competition between the superpowers; and by Soviet/Cuban
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