Learning About U.S. Foreign Policy Towards South America

By: Sofia Vegas, BSFS Scholar, SFS ’20

On Tuesday February 5th, the Georgetown University Center of Latin American Studies hosted an event titled “U.S. Foreign Policy For South America.” Livia Peres Milani, a PhD candidate, refuted the idea that the United States foreign policy has neglected Latin America during the past few decades. Peres Milani brought forth that US foreign policy to the region was more reactive than planned, claiming that although the United States had a bigger influence in Middle East countries, the Cold War led the US to take reactive measures against the rise of communist ideas. She then emphasized a quest towards autonomy that South American countries underwent during the Cold War era, demonstrating that the actions that Latin American countries are going through now are not something new and that these restrict US power in the region. She also mentioned that even if the U.S. President does not directly discuss the topic, there are other bodies in the U.S. bureaucracy that focus on Latin American relations. Last but not least, she discussed the structural power that the U.S. has with the size of their military and the power of the U.S. Dollar. With these four points, Peres Milani disproved the hypothesis that in the last twenty years the U.S. has decreased its foreign policy focus towards Latin America.

As a Venezuelan student at Georgetown, I am always interested to learn about Latin America-related studies. Before this presentation, I had not realized how strong the separation is between the Southern Cone and the Andean Region, specifically when talking about American intervention. This was extremely important for me to see as I find that most people tend to talk about Latin America as an entire bloc. Furthermore, I was also glad to have been shown the distinct bureaucratic system that the United States’ government has, that allows certain organs of the government to focus specifically on Latin America. Another very exciting thing about the event was the big turnout that it received. It is definitely reassuring to know that so many people in the Georgetown Community are interested in Latin America-U.S. relations. Overall, this event was extremely beneficial to my undergraduate studies and professional development.