A supporter of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a placard depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a rally against imperialism in Caracas, Venezuela, September 19, 2017.
Marco Bello / Reuters

No matter the administration, Latin Americanists have made the same lament about Washington over the years: that it consistently fails to give their region the attention it deserves. With the arrival of President Donald Trump, however, the United States’ relations with its southern neighbors have reached a new low. The problem is no longer one of neglect, but of malice, ad hoc policy responses, and blatant disinterest. The administration has reacted to short-term pressures without any hint of a broader, long-term strategy. It has shown hostility on immigration and little concern for the issues that Latin American citizens and governments care about, including economic development, trade integration, and multilateral cooperation. Trump has even been disdainful or dismissive of the United States’ traditional allies, such as Mexico and Argentina. His brazen mismanagement is doing tremendous damage—not only undermining U.S. economic and security interests but also destroying the hard-fought bipartisan legacy that Washington had brokered in the southern hemisphere on trade, human rights, and democracy.


Since the administration of President Ronald Reagan, Washington has offered Latin American economies the incentive of greater access to the U.S. market, first as a way to steer them away from the

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  • CHRISTOPHER SABATINI is a Lecturer of International Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and Executive Director of Global Americans. 

  • WILLIAM NAYLOR is a Program Officer at Global Americans.
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