Courtesy Reuters

DRIFTING DANGEROUSLY

Relations between the United States and Latin America today are at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. Many observers in the 1980s had hoped that Latin America's turn toward democracy and market economics, coupled with Washington's waning emphasis on security matters, would lead to closer and more cooperative ties. Indeed, for a time, the Americas seemed to be heading in the right direction: between 1989 and 1995, Central America's brutal wars were largely settled; the Brady debt-relief proposal (named for then U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady) helped end Latin America's decade-long, debt-induced recession; the United States, Canada, and Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); the United States hosted the hemisphere's first summit meeting in more than a generation; and in 1995 a bold Washington-led rescue package helped prevent the collapse of Mexico's economy. But much of this progress has since stalled, with U.

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