The presidency of Barack Obama ushered in a welcome honeymoon period in US-Latin American relations following eight years of the Bush administration’s polarizing policies towards the region. Early optimism has been tempered by the reappearance of tensions in hemispheric relations. They include the rise of Brazil as a regional power, the role of Venezuela and the continued strain in US-Cuban relations. Regional relations are further complicated by China’s growing economic presence in Latin America, increased ties with Iran and Russia, different US and Latin reactions to the June 2009 coup in Honduras, and the crisis response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Still, the US has potential to advance a strategy of substantive, issue oriented engagement designed to rekindle the early goodwill that resulted from Obama’s election to the White House.

  • Daniel P. Erikson is the senior associate for US policy and director of Caribbean programs at the Inter-American Dialogue.