The United States lacked a grand strategy to prevent the Chinese regime from expanding its influence in Latin America, according to security expert Joseph Humire.
Washington has been absent from the region for the past three decades, and as a result, “China saw an opportunity and really capitalized on the opportunity,” Humire told Epoch’s “China Insider” recently. TV.
“The Reagan administration…is the last American administration to have a broader policy for Latin America with the Cold War and anti-communism,” he said.
Humire spoke of the special bond between the United States and the region, saying that Latin America shares a cultural affinity and historical ties with America.
But, “the problem is that we don’t talk about it,” he said, adding that Washington, instead, is talking “in a transactional way” focusing on trade and other economic ties.
Moreover, according to the expert, this region is very “nascent in terms of democracy”.
“Many countries in Latin America did not reach…full democracy until the middle of the 20th century, or even in some cases the end of the 20th century, which means that they had periods of dictatorships” , said Humire.
As a result, he said, these countries are now seeking to develop peacefully.
“Latin America is not looking for war. They are not looking for conflict,” Humire said.
“They are just looking to be able to grow so that their democracies mature to the point where they can respect their own national sovereignty,” he added.
To help them achieve this goal, the United States should extend its cooperation in the region beyond the mere economic sphere, according to Humire.
Washington should engage with the region with a broader message, he said. “The biggest message is that the investments the United States has made in Latin America are meant to drive a peaceful region, a peaceful neighborhood.”
“It’s about creating a stable, prosperous and peaceful neighborhood, which cannot be done with the investments [by] China and other parts of the world,” he added.
Meanwhile, Humire said China has been rapidly expanding trade relations in the Western Hemisphere.
“If you go back 20 years, China was only a trading partner of three countries…in South America. Fast forward 10 years to 2010, [they are] the primary trading partner of seven of South America’s twelve sovereign nations,” Humire said.
“Today they are the largest trading partner for nine of South America’s major sovereign nations,” he added.
But China’s trade relations with Latin America come with political and geopolitical and even military ambitions, Humire noted.
“We are not far from the Chinese government having military outposts in Latin America, very close to the US border,” he said.
The Epoch Times has contacted the State Department for comment.