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Latin America: Benign Neglect Is Not Enough

Courtesy Reuters

It is now commonly admitted that the United States has no Latin American policy, save one of "benign neglect." That may be better than having the wrong one, but it is clearly impossible to coast along indefinitely. There is not much time left to develop new ideas and make a new approach before events will overtake and "surprise" the State Department.

The present vacuum received more or less official sanction with President Nixon's "low profile" speech of October 31, 1969, partly based on the poorly conceived and ill-starred Rockefeller mission. This speech marked a turning point in our attitude toward Latin America. Up to that time, we had asked ourselves what we could do to help the less-developed countries, in particular, Latin America, with which we were assumed to have special relations. President Nixon expressed the view that Latin America should no longer look for substantial aid and offered increased trade instead.

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