CIPR | Center For Inter-American Policy & Research

Tulane University

Challenges to Inter-American Relations and the Inter-American System in the Post-Bush Era

October 6th, 2008

Mark Schneider, Senior Vice-President and Special Adviser for Latin America at the International Crisis Group opened the CIPR Seminar Series for 2008-2009 with two presentations at Tulane on October 6 and 7. Mr. Schneider noted that, while U.S. leadership and influence in the Latin American region have reached their nadir the next administration could turn this into an opportunity by engaging countries in the hemisphere as partners and capitalizing in key areas of cooperation. Schneider noted several challenges to Inter-American relations in the post-Bush era: the persistence of high levels of poverty and inequality that may exacerbate political instability; the reversal of democratic advances registered in a handful of countries; the entrenched drug trade; and the weakness of the rule of law and its resultant high levels of corruption. He proposed three key areas for action that, among many others, could be fruitful. First, reorienting assistance away from its current emphasis on military and security spending towards rural development. The potentially large impact of such development aid on the well-being of rural communities would reduce poverty and inequality while mitigating the incentives for emigration and drug production. Second, rechanneling the drug war from its current focus on supply to a more concerted effort for controlling demand. This could be done by applying the same methods successfully applied to combat drunk driving and cigarette smoking in the U.S. to deter occasional use while treating chronic use as the public health pathology that it is. Finally, contribute to comprehensive judicial reform efforts that will better enable countries to control crime and corruption through the exercise of the rule of law. Mr. Schneider confessed himself an optimist convinced that the region can capitalize on its many economic and political advances to date and that the U.S. can shift its policies to regain its leadership in the region.

Read about Mark Schneider