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U.S. Security Strategies: Trade Policy Implications for Latin America

Edited by Dr. Max G. Manwaring.

April 2004

Brief Synopsis

The Summit of the Americas Center and Latin American and Caribbean Center of Florida International University, and the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College held the first of a series of mini-conferences dealing with security issues in the Western Hemisphere in Miami, Florida, on February 26, 2004. The theme focused on "Security Implications of Poor Economic Performance in Latin America." About 40 business people, university faculty members, and military and diplomatic officers from the United States and Latin America attended. In the recent past, the security focus as it pertained to Latin America centered primarily on the Drug War, Colombia, and Plan Colombia. But, because of the hemispheric "spill-over" issues stemming from the Colombian crisis and the horrific events of 9/11, that set of concerns has broadened. The keynote presentation by Ambassador Paul D. Taylor, now at the U.S. Naval War College, and the dialogue of the panelists* and attendees revolved around two key issues: the linkages among security, the economy and trade, and effective sovereignty; and, the operational roadblocks to productive post-9/11 engagement in the Americas.

Key Points

• Security was defined as “freedom from avoidable internal or external threats to a country’s territory, citizens, institutions, and interests.”
• Regional security, free trade, economic performance, and effective sovereignty are closely related.
• Instability, social violence, crime and criminal anarchy, and terrorism thrive as a result of poor economic performance.
• Not understanding and dealing with the linkages among these elements can endanger effective sovereignty, and lead a country into failing and failed state status.
• The cumulative negative effects of the current U.S. security and trade policy in the hemisphere come at a time when regional economies are in decline, and emphasize four highly related recommendations:

-- Advance hemispheric understanding of the nontraditional internal security concerns of each country, and those that the region as a whole faces.
-- Develop multilateral or bilateral civil-military structures and processes to identify and address threats, and find mutually acceptable solutions in the contemporary security environment.
-- Foster expanded dialogue, consultations, and cooperation for building consensus principles and concepts for regional security and economic cooperation--and enhanced trade.
-- Go beyond training and equipping small units to fight narco-terrorists, and adapt U.S. military efficacy to the contemporary threat environment at the strategic level.
• The United States shares with its Latin American neighbors an increasingly and vitally important financial, commercial, and security/stability stake in the political and economic growth of the hemisphere. Any kind of politicaleconomic-security deterioration in the region will profoundly affect the health of the regional economies, the U.S. economy—and the concomitant power to act in regional and global security arenas.

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