CIPR | Center For Inter-American Policy & Research

Tulane University

Inter-American Relations

Inter-American Relations

George W. Bush pledged to focus on Latin America during his second term but shifted his focus to the War on Terror in the advent of 9/11. A heavy-handed approach towards the region, dominated by the simplistic dictum that “you are with us or against us”, and an overemphasis on militaristic and repressive policies–on drugs and immigration, for example–generated widespread resentment. The rise of democratically elected leftist regimes both capitalized from and fostered the resurgence of anti-Americanism, leading some commentators to declare that the US had “lost” the region, opening it up to the influence of adversarial powers like China, Russia, or even Iran.

When elected, President Obama pledged a return to multilateralism, and offered to engage countries in the region as equal partners. He argued that the nature of the threats facing the Western Hemisphere in the twenty first century–organized crime, environmental degradation, climate change–were beyond the pale of any individual country, and should be tackled jointly. This new rhetoric, accompanied by the recognition of a shared responsibility for the drug trade, given demand fordrugs and supply of arms originating in the US, created an auspicious moment for US-Latin American relations. Yet, tensions reemerged as policy differences became manifest between the US andregional powers, particularly with regard to the expansion of a military base agreement with Colombia and the handling of the democratic and diplomatic impasse generated by the coup against Zelaya in Honduras. Moreover, Obama’s inability to move forward in any of the substantive policy issues most relevant to the region, from comprehensive immigration reform to the ratification of free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, created a sense of stasis.

The Obama administration did reverse Bush-era restrictions on travel to Cuba, eliminated the limits on remittances, opened the way to investment in key areas, and accepted the premise of a conditional return of Cuba to the OAS. However, it showed little willingness to go further in reversing the embargo, widely perceived as a failed policy and universally resented in the region. Obama has also further committed the US, through Plan Merida and the Central American and Caribbean Security Initiatives, to a war on drugs increasingly decried as ineffective and evendangerous. This led to claims that Obama’s policies towards the region exhibit substantive continuity with those inherited from his predecessor. Nonetheless, regional polls show that the President enjoys high popularity in Latin America and that majorities now express favorable views of the US and its influence in the region, which suggests that the administration’s efforts to appear more even-handed in its approach to the region are favorably perceived.

It could be argued that the US has little choice but to engage the region on this basis. While the US is mired in political stalemate and suffering from lackluster economic growth Latin America seems to be on the rise, enjoying an era of social, political, and economic success. Its governments are democratically elected, economic growth is solid, and strides have been made against poverty and inequality, often through the introduction of innovative policies. There has been a shift in global power towards emerging economies, which has enabled them to adopt a more assertive and independent stance in international relations, including with the United States. Still, challenges remain. Most economies in the region continue to rely excessively on commodity exports, fueled by demand from China, for their growth. Some countries have experienced a weakening of democratic institutions. And the region is still a long way from fully escaping the ravages of poverty and inequality. While the tenor of relations has indeed changed, the US will remain a significant and important regional player. This was evidenced by Obama’s 2011 trip to the region, which was framed by the themes of respect and partnership. The choice of destinations–Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador–suggested a focus on likeminded allies with the greatest potential for mutually beneficial partnerships. For example, at least 10 partnership agreements were signed with Brazil during the trip,ranging from trade and energy to nuclear non-proliferation. On the other hand, the administration avoided openly sparring with countries that oppose it, thereby attempting to move forward on the basis of mutual respect.

In sum, inter-American relations have evolved in their complexity. Integration has continued apace and there are broad areas of common interest and much to gain, but the rules of engagement have been altered. While the US is still the most powerful player it must now deal with more autonomous and assertive regional players that are increasingly willing and able to diversify their relations with extra regional players.

Key general research questions in this area include the following:

  • How will American interests in the region continue to evolve and what are the implications?
  • How might policy towards the region evolve, if at all, under the currently divided US Congress? What are the implications for the region of the presidential campaign of 2012?
  • Will the US continue to pursue a policy of partnership and respect? What are its implications?
  • What can be expected of regional integration efforts? With what consequences?
  • What is the future role of regional and sub-regional institutions?
  • What are the implications for Inter-American relations of the new found assertiveness and autonomy of regional powers?
  • What are the threats of rising arms purchases in the region and a potential arms race between regional powers?
  • Is there a danger of the resurgence of democratic slippage, or even authoritarianism? How might these affect Inter-American relations?
  • What are the greatest threats to peace and stability in the region?
  • What is the best approach to deal with transnational security issues like gangs, the drug trade, and other forms of international crime?

Click for a list of News, Events, Research and Resources related to Inter-American Relations




All Events

Upcoming Events

Apply for the Teaching Cuban Culture & Society: A Summer Educator Institute in Cuba

View Full Event Description

Teaching Cuban Culture & Society: A Summer Educator Institute in Cuba
Havana, Cuba | June 23 – July 7, 2018
Program Application
Application Deadline: March 2, 2018

Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies and the Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute at Tulane University join forces with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies to take K-16 educators to Cuba. This is our fourth year running the Cuban Culture & Society K-16 Educator Institute and we are excited about this year’s itinerary. The institute will approach Cuban society and culture form a multidisciplinary perspective focused on the arts, the geography, and history of the country. Innovative programming and annual summer teacher institutes over the past three years provide the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and studying the region. Taking advantage of Tulane’s relationship with the University of Havana and Cuba’s National Union of Writers and Artists, the institute equips teachers with multidisciplinary content, curricular resources, and methods of inquiry for developing that approach in their K-16 classrooms. Conducted in English by Professor Carolina Caballero, the institute will explore current trends and issues in Cuban culture and society through readings, films, and lectures. The program includes a series of talks by prominent Cuban intellectuals and local field trips to important political and cultural sights throughout Havana.

This two-week program provides the unique opportunity to work on developing lesson plans while exploring the sights and sounds of a nation and country that remain obscured behind political rhetoric and misinformation. Recent economic changes on the island have provoked a series of social and cultural transformations that have left Cubans and the entire world wondering what could be next for the island and the Revolution. Don’t miss the chance to witness some of these challenges and triumphs firsthand and get the opportunity to bring your experience back to your students in the classroom.

The trip will include a pre-departure orientation and two weeks in Cuba. The institute incorporates visits to local museums and exposes participants to arts organizations, schools, and teachers from the country’s national literacy campaign. Participants will stay within walking distance of the Malecón, the university, and many cultural venues. There will be group excursions to the historic Che Guevara monument, a visit to the site of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and a special visit to the town of Hershey, the town developed by Milton Hershey to begin his chocolate enterprise with the sugar from Cuba’s plantations. There will also be group excursions to the historic cities of Trinidad and Cienfuegos, Playa Girón, and Viñales, focusing on their role in the development of the economy and culture of the country

The cost will include a shared room and two meals a day, medical insurance, airfare to/from Havana from Tampa, Florida*, airport transportation in Havana to/from residence, OFAC-licensed academic visa, and specialized tours and outings.

*Airfare to/from Tampa, Florida, a one-night hotel stay in Tampa, incidental costs, and extra meals and expenses are not included in the program cost. You are responsible for your own air flight to/from Tampa, FL.

Those interested in applying must be a K-16 educator or librarian. There is no Spanish language requirement for this program. The application deadline is March 2, 2018, at 5:00 PM.

Please note: This program is only open to K-16 educators who are currently teaching, are pre-service teachers or are serving in a school or public library.

Please be advised that this itinerary is subject to change based on availability in Cuba. The itinerary below is the schedule from the 2017 institute.

  • Day 1 – U.S./HAVANA, CUBA
    Depart from Tampa, FL, Upon arrival, enjoy dinner and a welcome reception followed by an informal walk and people watching on the Malecón.
  • Day 2 – HAVANA
    Habana Vieja (Old Havana) Tour with local preservation experts to discuss in depth the history of local landmarks, historical preservation efforts, and future plans. Visit Muraleando Lawton, a community art project in the Lawton neighborhood of Havana. Hear from the founders of this project on how the neighborhood developed to promote skills in the community and support the local economy and meet with local community leaders, students and elderly folks at the community center.
  • Day 3 – HAVANA
    Lecture with Professor Carlos Alzugaray on Cuba Since the Special Period. Visit the elementary school Sergio Luis Ferriol in Habana Vieja. Connect with teachers and administrators about their experiences in the classroom.
  • Day 4 – HAVANA
    Visit the Museo Nacional de la Alfabetización (National Museum of the Literacy Campaign) and connect with members of the literacy brigade, teachers from the literacy campaign.
  • Day 5 – HAVANA
    Visit and explore Ernest Hemingway’s house. Have lunch in the infamous fishing village of Cojimar. In the afternoon, explore art by taking a tour of the Cuban Collection of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes accompanied by a curator then visit with artists at the Taller de Gráfica.
  • Day 6 – HERSHEY
    Day trip to the Hershey, Cuba and nature park. The site where famous chocolatier Milton Hershey developed his chocolate business by setting up sugar mills in the early 1900’s. Explore the natural side of Cuba in this country town.
  • Day 7 – HAVANA
    Learn about children’s literature and the book publishing business in Cuba by visiting Cuba’s national publisher UNEAC and hear first hand from children’s book authors. We will hear from children’s book author Olga Marta Pérez about the children’s/ youth Literacy Scene in Cuba today.
  • Day 8 – HAVANA/REGLA
    Take the ferry across the bay in Havana to the town of Regla to learn about Afro-Cuban dance and music from musicologist Cari Diez and an Afro-Cuban dance performance group.
    Travel to Trinidad via Santa Clara, a town founded by 175 people on July 15, 1689. It is the site of the last battle in the Cuban Revolution in 1958. Visit to the Che Mausoleum in Santa Clara. Also visit the historic sugar plantation of Manaca Iznaga before arriving in Trinidad.
  • Day 10 – TRINIDAD
    Explore this UNESCO World Heritage site, founded on December 23, 1514 by Diego Velázquez de Cuellar. Trinidad was a central piece of Cuba’s sugar-based economy. Guided city tour with the city historian. Visit the Trinidad library to learn about the importance of libraries and debate questions of intellectual freedom with the staff.
  • Day 11 – PLAYA GIRON (SITE OF BAY OF PIGS) Ciénega de Zapata, Playa Larga
    Day excursion to the historic site of the Bay of Pigs, one of the landing sites for the 1961 US-backed invasion. Visit the Finca Fiesta Campesina farm, the Playa Girón museum, the Parque Ciénaga de Zapata, the Laguna del Tesoro, and the Taino Indian village. Snorkel in the Bay of Pigs!
  • Day 12 – HAVANA
    Visit the U.S. Embassy and hear first-hand about the state of current relations between the U.S. and Cuba. In the afternoon, we head over to meet up with the famous hip-hop group, Obsesión to hear about their music and experience as hip-hop artists in Cuba.
    Take a day trip to Matanzas, the capital of the Cuban province of Matanzas. Known for its poets, culture, and Afro-Cuban folklore, we will explore the Triunvirato Plantation and the Castillo San Severino where we will hear about the history of slavery in Cuba. The rest of the afternoon we relax and explore the beautiful beaches of Varadero, a popular resort town covering Cuba’s narrow Hicacos Peninsula.
  • Day 14 – HAVANA
    Wrap-up curriculum workshop followed by a free afternoon ending in a celebratory dinner.
  • Day 15 – HAVANA/U.S.
    Morning departure for the U.S.

Explore our past trips through these photos and curricula:

Program Application

For more information, please contact Denise Woltering-Vargas at or call the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at 504-862-3143.