Almost 500 years after Christopher Columbus found the New World, nearly sixty years after Franklin D. Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy, and some thirty years since John F. Kennedy proclaimed the Alliance for Progress, George Bush in 1990 appears to be rediscovering Latin America.

Late in June the president announced an economic initiative-affecting debt, trade and investment-that could signal a fundamental U.S. policy decision of great potential significance: to build strong western hemisphere partnerships for the 1990s. The medium-term future of inter-American relations may well be shaped in the coming months as the president and his administration define in practice how they understand Latin America's importance to the United States in a rapidly changing world.

President Bush came to office at a moment of opportunity in the western hemisphere. After nearly a decade of sharp tensions between Latin America and the United States-and of deep divisions within this country over Latin American policy-a broad consensus was beginning to emerge by the end of 1988 on the immediate steps needed to reverse the deterioration of inter-American relations.

-It was widely accepted that Latin America's massive debt-service burden of some $400 billion had become unsustainable, and that substantial debt relief would be needed to release the region from an excruciating economic trap that might otherwise produce dire social and political consequences.

-It was increasingly recognized that burgeoning drug trafficking from Latin America to the United States was becoming an urgent problem, eclipsing traditional "national security" issues, and that the impulse to export primary responsibility for the problem to the producing and trafficking countries in Latin America was ineffective and counterproductive.

-It was broadly understood that Latin America's democratic openings during the 1980s were extremely fragile. Incumbent governments were being rejected in every election, sometimes by humiliating margins; labor violence was mounting in many countries; insurgent movements were gaining strength in a few; the narcotics network was eroding state authority in some nations; and armies throughout the region were restive.

-With regard to Central America, there was broad agreement that the Bush administration should chart a new course rather than risk fracturing the emerging consensus on other issues, hemispheric and global, by trying to carry on Reagan administration policies without the requisite public and congressional support. Both proponents and opponents of the Reagan stance of military aid to the contras recognized that this approach had become a slow-motion Bay of Pigs.

II

During President Bush's first months in office, his administration appeared to initiate, albeit cautiously, a new approach to Latin America. Through the bipartisan accord negotiated personally by Secretary of State James Baker with the Democratic leadership in Congress, the administration skillfully distanced itself from the Reagan stance toward Nicaragua. In effect Washington abandoned any further military use of the contra army and accepted the framework for a Central American peace plan that had been designed by Costa Rica's president, Oscar Arias. The administration tacitly committed itself to accepting the results of Nicaragua's elections (scheduled for February 1990) if they were free and fair, and gave the Democratic leadership in Congress something of a veto power on U.S. relations with the Nicaraguan resistance movement.

The administration also seemed to abandon the previously complacent U.S. stance toward the debt problem-and to indicate that Latin American, Japanese and other international views were being heeded-by conceding that some debt reduction should be sought. Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady outlined general proposals toward this end in March 1989, and the incipient Brady Plan was followed by concrete steps to alleviate the debt burdens of Mexico, Venezuela and Costa Rica.

Finally, the administration adopted an important change of emphasis in U.S. policy on combating the drug problem. Responding in part to Latin American views, the administration unveiled in September 1989 a National Drug Control Strategy that recognized demand at home as the heart of the problem, and stressed its reduction. In various documents and declarations, the White House also expressed its concern with the underlying economic and social problems of the major producing countries of the Andean region. Reacting to the slaying of Colombian political leader Luis Carlos Galán, Washington provided some immediate aid to the Colombian government.

The administration sought furthermore to involve Latin American nations and even the badly discredited Organization of American States in seeking multilateral solutions to shared problems-including fighting drugs and protecting the environment as well as trying to end the repugnant regime of General Manuel Antonio Noriega in Panama. On this last problem, in particular, the Bush administration impressed Latin American observers by what seemed to be a high priority effort to back away from the unilateral approach that had produced such frustration during the Reagan period, and to redirect its Panama policy through the OAS.

The administration also expressed interest in nurturing Latin American democracy. The president, the secretary of state and other officials often emphasized this aim, and Bush took the time in October 1989 to visit Costa Rica for a western hemisphere summit to discuss ways to fortify the region's democratic openings.

Bush also gave several indications, even before his inauguration, that he would seek to improve U.S. relations with Mexico. The president-elect met in Houston in December 1988 with his Mexican counterpart, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and the newly elected chief executives pledged vigorous new efforts to build bilateral cooperation on a broad agenda of shared concerns. The importance of Mexico for the administration was highlighted in August 1989 when half the Cabinet traveled to Mexico for a working session of the U.S.-Mexico bilateral commission.

In sum, President Bush and his administration seemed inclined to fashion improved approaches in the western hemisphere. By the autumn of 1989, Latin American leaders tended to credit his administration with a strong beginning.

III

By the end of the spring of 1990, however, the Bush administration's record on Latin American policy was, on the whole, somewhat disappointing. Some of its policy initiatives had faltered and several others appeared to be in danger of being overwhelmed.

The Brady Plan turned out in practice to be rather more an exhortation than a plan. It was implemented fully only in Mexico, where U.S. geopolitical and geoeconomic interests are most obvious. Even there, the degree of debt reduction provided was considerably less than Mexico had sought; the net reduction of debt-service obligations during the next few years will probably amount to about $1.5 billion a year, less than 15 percent of the previous annual outlay.

In other major Latin American countries-including Brazil and Argentina, which together account for close to half of Latin America's total external debt-the debt burden seemed little closer to being relieved by mid-1990 than it was during the Baker Plan period (1986-88), when the thrust of U.S. policy still had much more to do with protecting commercial banks and the international financial system than with restoring solvency to Latin America's debtors. Most Latin American nations fell into substantial arrears; a disorderly and uncoordinated series of arrangements between debtors and creditors emerged, with little prospect of meaningful relief in most countries.

The administration's early moves to deemphasize Nicaragua and to buy time and political space to develop a new approach toward Central America sharply reduced recriminations in Washington, and ultimately helped make possible the stunning electoral defeat of the Sandinistas in February 1990-though this outcome was probably as much of a surprise to the administration as to the media. But the time and leverage gained by the administration's efforts to back away from the Reagan policy were not wisely invested during 1989 and early 1990. The administration had not looked beyond February's election in Nicaragua and was almost as unprepared for Violeta Chamorro's victory as it would have been for a Sandinista triumph. It was slow to revise policy toward El Salvador in light of the major guerrilla offensive of October-November 1989 and of the waning Cold War. Washington developed no clear policy toward Guatemala, where both guerrilla and counterinsurgent violence were escalating, or for dealing with the impact on Honduras of dismantling the contra establishment. More generally, the administration showed little inclination to reconsider U.S. aims in Central America or different U.S. instruments for achieving national objectives. U.S. policy seemed stuck, reacting to events without any evident strategy.

The administration's promises to aid Andean nations were largely undercut by the negative effects of other U.S. policies, including the protectionist barriers against the region's legal exports. There were troubling signs as well that pressures were building in Washington for more forceful policies to fight the "war" on drugs, including the use of U.S. and local military personnel in ways that could well build nationalist resentments in Latin America or possibly affect the delicate civil-military balance in some countries. The Cartagena summit in February 1990 with the presidents of Colombia, Bolivia and Peru gave Bush a chance to show his interest in inter-American cooperation on narcotics and other issues, but the president really had little beyond encouragement to offer the Andean leaders.

Bush's repeated expressions of concern for democracy in Latin America also seemed primarily rhetorical. The Costa Rica summit, ill prepared and thus easily derailed by the appearance of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, proved mainly to be a prolonged "photo-opportunity," with little of substance occurring during the less than three hours that were available for actual discussion among the 16 presidents who attended. The U.S. administration and Congress did precious little to provide resources that might help alleviate the extraordinary economic and social pressures on Latin American democracies. Although the administration and Congress were convinced that democratic openings in Eastern and central Europe should be reinforced with U.S. assistance, they were unwilling to provide such aid in South America. The two Latin American countries slated to receive substantial U.S. aid-Panama and Nicaragua-were not chosen because they are viable democracies but rather because the United States was so blatantly responsible for their economic problems.

Finally, the administration's initial apparent reliance on a multilateral effort to deal with the Noriega dictatorship gave way in December to the U.S. invasion. More than 24,000 U.S. troops were deployed, without the invitation of any government or prior consultation with, let alone approval by, any inter-American or international organization. The administration either underestimated or simply discounted the significance of strong Latin American objections to this unilateral military action.

Some Latin American observers, indeed, thought they detected a new U.S. disposition to use force in the hemisphere, illustrated not only by the Panama operation but by the dispatch of U.S. forces to rescue American citizens trapped in a hotel in El Salvador, the coast guard's shelling of a Cuban ship in international waters, the navy's announced intention to deploy an aircraft carrier off the coast of Colombia, the sending of special forces to Peru and the apparent decision to enforce U.S. anti-narcotic laws within the national territory of Mexico and other nations.

A broader concern began to emerge: that the waning Cold War might actually remove long-standing inhibitions on Washington's interventionism. This fear almost certainly will turn out to have been misplaced, but the fact that it surfaced at all illustrates a considerable measure of lingering distrust.

IV

Opinion polls early in 1990 showed that President Bush's personal stature was high, and among the reasons for his positive rating were the Panama invasion, the vigorous war on drugs and the defeat of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Yet specialists on Latin America from both parties, including some who advised on Latin American affairs during the electoral campaign, were generally critical of the administration's record in the hemisphere.1

The reason for this disillusion is evident. The administration's aim in practice seemed to be to remove Latin America from the front pages, rather than to develop a long-term strategy for confronting the region's underlying problems. The apparent guiding principle of its policy toward Latin America was to gauge the region's effect on domestic public opinion; this concern, not program or policy objectives, largely explained the course of policy.

Blitzkrieg summits, like those in San José and Cartagena, make eminent sense, after all, if their aim is essentially symbolic and no real effort will be made to achieve sustained and close cooperation. The dramatic military operation in Panama no doubt produced a considerable domestic political gain. Steady and predictably costly efforts to help Latin America emerge from its long depression, in turn, promised little by way of media attention or popular acclaim, and they were not undertaken.

The Bush administration thus successfully eliminated the hyperbole and diluted the obsessions of the Reagan policy, but failed to develop its own positive agenda. It understood that Latin America should no longer be considered as a prime target in a supposed Soviet game plan to challenge U.S. power, but it did not clearly substitute an alternative notion of Latin America's contemporary importance to the United States. Familiar rationales were often still articulated, but without conviction or credibility. No compelling and overarching new statement of U.S. interests in Latin America was advanced.

V

With Latin America's traditional significance for the United States receding and with the region's supposed importance for the bipolar struggle having virtually evaporated overnight, it is small wonder that the Bush administration was tempted to rely on ad hoc responses to Latin America and to shape its regional policy mainly in search of short-term domestic political returns. If Latin American trends are perceived as no longer having much impact upon the United States, it is understandable that policy toward the region might be defined primarily in terms of media images. There were obvious political advantages in framing the main problems for U.S. policy in the Americas as getting rid of Manuel Noriega and Daniel Ortega, and as fighting the drug war on Latin American soil. Perceived success in the first two cases and apparent vigor in the third produced quick and substantial gains. Some would say that such achievements added up to a successful policy under the circumstances.

The fundamental problem with making western hemisphere policy primarily by opinion polls, however, is that trends in Latin America today are having a significant impact on the United States, and will have even more in the years to come. Latin America could become increasingly important for the United States in a transformed global context that will permit and perhaps compel this country to look inward, turning greater attention to domestic problems-creating jobs, increasing U.S. economic competitiveness, fighting drug consumption and improving schools. All these issues will be influenced by Latin America because the region is so close and large, demonstrably capable of growth and tightly intertwined with the United States.

U.S. military security is no longer credibly menaced by attack from or through the western hemisphere, but security in a broader sense-the capacity to protect the individual and collective welfare of this country's citizens-is vulnerable to many Latin American developments. Latin America's significance for the United States today derives from its economic impact, the influence of migration, the region's role in affecting important shared problems and from its importance for core values at the heart of U.S. society.

Latin America could become a major export market for the United States in the 1990s. One by one, various Latin American countries are emerging from the deep recession of the 1980s and beginning to resume growth: Chile, Costa Rica and now perhaps Mexico. If the region as a whole can eventually overcome its debt-induced depression, it has a chance to resume the high rates of economic growth sustained from World War II through the 1970s. The industrial transformation that occurred in Latin America during that period was comparable in scope and pace to the period of growth from 1890 to 1914 in the United States. In the thirty years following the Second World War, Latin America's production of steel multiplied twenty times, and its output of electric energy, metals and machinery each expanded more than tenfold. Latin America's demographic growth has also been very rapid; starting with approximately the same population as the United States in 1950, the region will have nearly twice as many inhabitants as the United States by the end of the century.

These facts, taken together with the region's access to abundant credit, explain in large measure why a dynamic Latin America was the fastest growing market for U.S. products in the late 1970s. The region's debt crisis since 1982 caused imports to plummet, but they have begun to increase again. If Latin America can rebound, the region could absorb more U.S. products and services in a period when regaining trade competitiveness will be one of the main challenges facing the United States. Moreover U.S. firms still have some comparative advantages in Latin America, derived from proximity, familiarity, communication links, financial and other services and cultural penetration.

Strong growth in U.S. exports to Latin America could be especially significant in the 1990s, as Europe's impending enhanced integration takes hold and some U.S. firms become disadvantaged there. The current fascination with trade and investment opportunities in Eastern Europe sometimes obscures the fact that U.S. exports to Eastern Europe today are less than two percent of U.S. exports to Latin America, and that even a major expansion of U.S. exports to Eastern Europe would be much less significant for the U.S. economy than simply regaining the rate of growth of exports to Latin America experienced in the 1970s. Latin America could also be a significant region for U.S. banking operations, not at the artificially high levels that were produced in the 1970s when the commercial banks frantically recycled petrodollars in the western hemisphere, but at a level substantial enough to make a major difference to the performance of the few money-center banks that are staying the course in Latin America.

An additional important impact of Latin America on the United States comes from massive and sustained migration to this country, especially from Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.

-More than 20 million persons of Hispanic-American descent now live in the United States, and Latinos are this country's fastest growing ethnic or cultural group.

-Half the public school students in Los Angeles County and in four southwestern states are of Latino origin.

-Some ten percent of Central America's population fled the region during the war-torn 1980s, mostly to come to the United States.

-The influx from the Caribbean has been relentless; since the end of World War II, more than five million people from the Caribbean islands have come to the U.S. mainland, almost one of every eight persons born in the region during this period.

As the number of new domestic entrants to the U.S. labor pool declines, the United States will need even more immigrant workers in the years to come. Without them, U.S. manufacturers, service industries and agriculture could face shortages of unskilled labor, rising real wages and a loss of international competitiveness.

These massive migrations are affecting the United States in myriad ways-shaping education, employment, public health, business, politics, culture and mores. The immigrant communities are bound to influence how the United States sees its stake in the hemisphere's social, economic and political conditions and how it relates to the countries of origin. In California, Texas and Florida, increasingly important in electoral terms, voters of Latino origin are already affecting U.S. perceptions and policies.

Major problems facing the United States cannot be resolved without sustained and intimate cooperation among western hemisphere nations. The most dramatic example is narcotics. Latin American countries produce or transship more than 80 percent of the cocaine and 90 percent of the marijuana that enters the United States. Demand in the United States must be drastically reduced, but efforts to do so will not succeed without effective programs of crop eradication, crop substitution and interdiction in Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, as well as unprecedented international cooperation to stop money-laundering operations. And Latin America's cooperation may well make a critical difference on other vital issues of the 1990s: environmental protection; resource development and management, including the provision of secure sources of energy; combating terrorism; preventing the spread of AIDS and other diseases; and curbing nuclear proliferation.

Finally, the prospects for preserving values at the core of U.S. society-particularly respect for fundamental individual human rights-are significantly affected by conditions elsewhere in the hemisphere. As a nation committed to freedom, equity and respect for the individual, the United States cannot condone repression in a region so historically and culturally connected to our own society, and where U.S. influence has been and remains important. Whenever Latin America's governments base themselves on force, and whenever there are significant violations of human rights, Latin America will be on the U.S. foreign policy agenda. It should be there, as well, when the region's move toward democratic government makes possible meaningful U.S. support to consolidate human rights gains.

VI

These distinct aspects of Latin America's contemporary importance to the United States have major implications for U.S. policy in the 1990s. They suggest why the United States must concern itself with Latin America's economic, social and political conditions.

In an earlier era, when what mattered to Washington was obtaining military bases, preserving access to raw materials, protecting investments in extractive enterprises and gaining diplomatic support from client states, the U.S. government could afford to turn a blind eye to internal conditions within Latin America, to ignore poverty and inequality and even to make its peace with unattractive dictators. But if what concerns the United States about Latin America in the 1990s is the capacity of its countries to buy U.S. products and continue payments to U.S. banks, the rate and nature of migration, the prospects for sustained and effective cooperation on tough shared problems like drugs and the environment and the protection of fundamental human rights-then the United States has an important stake in the region's well-being.

This framework suggests which Latin American countries are of greatest objective interest to the United States, and why. The relationship with Mexico is clearly of utmost importance, for Mexico scores high on all dimensions of U.S. concern. Brazil, a megacountry of nearly 150 million persons and the tenth-largest market economy in the world, has little significance for the United States on demographic grounds, but is very important on every other criterion. The Andean countries, at least for a time, will have high salience for Washington because of drugs and related sociopolitical deterioration and their spillover effects on the United States. Venezuela is important primarily because of its vast oil and gas reserves. The Caribbean islands and to some extent the countries of Central America will have a significance beyond their size due to the high degree of interpenetration caused by massive and sustained migration. Conversely, the United States in the 1990s may perceive that it has much less at stake in the outcome of Central America's civil wars than it thought in the 1980s. And the countries of the Southern Cone-Chile, Uruguay and Argentina-may naturally return to the relatively modest prominence they had in U.S. foreign policy in the interwar years.

The issues at the heart of U.S.-Latin American relations in the 1990s will increasingly be "intermestic"-based on the international spillover of domestic concerns and involving both international and domestic aspects and actors. Trade, immigration, narcotics control, resource development, environmental protection and public health will all require complex management, engaging the active participation not only of many executive departments but also of Congress, state and local authorities, corporations and trade unions and many other nongovernmental organizations. The line between domestic policy and Latin American policy, consequently, will be hard to define in the 1990s.

In sum, Latin America will be of heightened relative importance for the United States. For those who have seen the world almost exclusively in Cold War terms, the events of the past year have made Latin America seem virtually irrelevant, likely, as some say, to "fall off the map" of U.S. concerns. But as U.S. interests and energies turn inward to domestic challenges, Latin America may well be increasingly pertinent. Far from becoming irrelevant, Latin America's problems and opportunities will increasingly be our own.

VII

For many years U.S. actions affecting Latin America have often been determined for reasons having little to do with the region itself. Domestic choices about fiscal and monetary policy, trade and tax reforms, agricultural subsidies, energy and welfare have had major consequences for Latin America because the region is so closely tied to the United States. Foreign policies toward the Soviet Union, Europe and the Middle East frequently have had significant, if unintended, impacts upon our neighbors in the western hemisphere. And in administrations of sharply divergent ideological thrusts, Latin America has sometimes been used as a stage, where points are scored for partisan political reasons or for broader international purposes rather than to respond to and affect hemispheric realities.

After a strong beginning in formulating its policies toward Latin America, the Bush administration reverted before the end of its first year toward treating Latin American policy in these familiar ways, allowing it by and large to become a residual consequence of other choices and an arena for achieving quick political gains. The administration seemed inclined to ignore South America, push for short-term results in Central America and Panama that would predictably leave the fundamental problems there unaddressed, and focus its positive efforts almost exclusively on Mexico.

In recent months, however, the administration appears to be edging toward a more farsighted stance. Beginning with its strong interest in Mexico, the Bush team seems willing to recognize that revitalized western hemisphere partnerships could be immensely helpful to the United States in a period when Cold War blocs are thawing, economic power and military prowess are diffusing, international economic and political rivalries are intensifying, and global challenges to health, governance and the environment are taking center stage.

The initial indications of a new U.S. approach in the hemisphere came, understandably, in connection with neighboring Mexico. The objective reasons for recognizing Mexico's increasingly vital significance for the United States were no doubt reinforced by the Texas backgrounds of the president and secretary of state and also by the opportunity for a fresh start afforded by the nearly simultaneous presidential transitions in the two countries and the accession to power in Mexico of the U.S.-educated and U.S.-oriented Carlos Salinas.

The rapid pace toward closer U.S.-Mexican cooperation has been largely set by President Salinas, who has moved decisively in this direction, ignoring or overcoming previous nationalist restraints. Under Salinas, Mexico has undertaken unilateral steps to attract U.S. investment, to lower trade barriers and to protect the environment; made unprecedented efforts to curb the narcotics traffic and to confront official corruption; and conducted a major public relations campaign to convince public opinion in the United States of the value of a closer bilateral relationship. It is still possible that domestic resistance within Mexico, the United States or both countries will derail or at least slow the pace of bilateral cooperation, but there is no doubt that it has proceeded far and fast during the past 18 months-with open discussion taking place for the first time of a possible free trade agreement.

A second potentially important step toward a new Latin American policy came early in June, when Secretary Baker flew to Central America to propose to the presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama that the leading industrialized nations should undertake coordinated multilateral assistance for Central America's recovery and development. A great deal of follow-up will be required to convert this suggestion into a sustainable reality, but the proposal is significant in recognizing a long-term development interest in Central America even when the Cold War threat is receding, in proposing substantial multilateral consultation, and in inviting extra-hemispheric actors to play a major long-term role in the region.

The past few months have provided evidence that the Bush administration is preparing to think beyond Mexico and Central America in building a western hemisphere policy. The president returned from the Cartagena summit convinced that regional economic issues needed to be addressed, and asked the Treasury and State departments to work on a new Latin American policy. Elements of such a policy were being shaped for announcement during the president's trip scheduled for September 1990 to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela, but first indications of administration thinking came in the president's June 27 speech.

Pride of place in that pronouncement was given to commerce, on which Bush was grandiloquent if vague. He held out a long-term vision of regionwide free trade, promised that Washington stands ready to negotiate agreements with individual nations or regional subgroups, pledged cooperation with Latin American nations in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade's Uruguay Round, and indicated he would seek deep tariff cuts on products of special interest to Latin American exporters. Although his statement did not offer specific concessions on trade, it did convey willingness, at least in concept, to extend to all of Latin America the kind of preferential commercial arrangements that have been gaining ground in the cases of Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean Basin nations.

On investment Bush announced that he would ask Congress to approve a new U.S. contribution of $100 million to a multilateral fund, to be administered by the Inter-American Development Bank, to promote privatization and other reforms intended to expand production. At the same time the president announced that Washington would seek equivalent contributions of $100 million each from Japan and the European Economic Community. The level of funding proposed is trivial by comparison with Latin America's investment needs, but any proposal to devote additional U.S. resources to Latin America is a very positive signal in the current Washington context. Amid intense criticism from his own party for recognizing that unpopular tax increases are necessary, the president's willingness to ask Congress for additional funds for Latin American development is noteworthy.

Perhaps the most specific news in the Bush announcement was the promise to seek legislation to permit substantial reductions in concessional loans, with interest payments on the reduced claims to be made in local currency and used for mutually agreed environmental projects. Again the immediate impact of the announcement is limited, for it affects only about $7 billion (less than two percent) of Latin America's total external debt, and it mainly puts a positive face on the inevitable: the poorest nations cannot repay these loans. But the administration's willingness to go beyond the Brady Plan may provide leverage for Latin American negotiations with other official creditors from Europe and Japan, as well as with U.S. commercial banks.

What could also be significant is that the administration has accepted some responsibility to reduce Latin America's high debt overhang and to help the region recover from its recession. The U.S. government now recognizes, after nearly a decade of tacit denial, that Latin America's economic downturn is the fundamental problem that needs to be addressed if progress is to be made on strengthening democracy, fighting drugs and protecting the environment.

The ultimate importance of President Bush's still sketchy initiative will depend on its detailed implementation-but most immediately on responses from Latin America. The ball is now in Latin America's court. This is no time for Latin Americans to be passive, waiting for Washington to spell out a full-blown program or to show its good faith by further actions. Washington may now be ready to rediscover Latin America, but the chances for real western hemisphere partnerships depend also on Latin America's learning how to approach the United States. The Inter-American Development Bank, perhaps together with the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America, could now play a constructive role by helping forge a Latin American proposal for regional recovery and expanded inter-American exchange. If Latin America's diverse nations can tell the United States and Canada what kind of economic and political relations they seek, the way may open to a new era in the Americas.

1 See, for example, Georges A. Fauriol, "The Shadow of Latin American Affairs," Foreign Affairs, America and the World 1989/90, and William Perry, "In Search of a Latin American Policy: The Elusive Quest," The Washington Quarterly, Spring 1990.

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  • Abraham F. Lowenthal is Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California and Executive Director of the Inter-American Dialogue. His most recent book is Partners in Conflict: The United States and Latin America in the 1990s.
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