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POLSC324: Latin American/Caribbean Politics

Unit 4: The United States and Latin America   From its historical legacy as a series of European colonies through revolution and modern times, Latin America has often been defined by its close proximity to the United States of America.  Speaking of Mexico in the mid-1900s, longtime dictator and president of Mexico, Porfirio Diaz (1830-1915) described this relationship as follows: "¡Pobre México! ¡Tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos!"  (“Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States!”)  Much of Latin America, for right or wrong, would express this same sentiment.
Latin Americans have long had a “love-hate” relationship with the U.S.  On the one-hand, Latin Americans are enamored with American culture and admire its technological, economic, and political strengths.  On the other hand, they are highly suspicious and resentful of the way the United States’ government has often exercised its great power throughout the region.  This is largely because of the United States’ long and deep involvement throughout the region, including numerous military interventions; support for dictators; secret plots to remove or assassinate anti-American political leaders; and countless legal, economic, and political manipulations designed to maintain and promote U.S. interests and power in the region.  
 

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 8 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 4 hours ☐    Sub-subunit 4.1.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.1.2: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 4 hours ☐    Sub-subunit 4.2.1: 0.25 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 4.2.2: 1 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 4.2.3: 1.75 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.2.4: 1 hour

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Describe the major historical milestones and patterns in the historical development of U.S. relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. - Identify common misconceptions and stereotypes of U.S. citizens toward Latin America and its people. - Explain the various means by which the United States has sought to exercise its influence over the region. - Describe the role of the United States in promoting democracy throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

4.1 History of U.S. – Latin American Relations   4.1.1 Timeline of U.S.-Latin American Relations   - Reading: North Carolina State University: Richard W. Slatta’s “Time-Line of US-Latin American Relations” Link: North Carolina State University: Richard W. Slatta’s “Time-Line of US-Latin American Relations” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire webpage.  This timeline lists the chronology of U.S. relations with Latin America.  Please also read the Saylor Foundation’s “U.S.-Latin American Relations” text in sub-subunit 4.1.2 in conjunction with this timeline.
 
This reading should take about 1.5 hours to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

4.1.2 Overview of U.S.–Latin American Relations   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “U.S.-Latin American Relations” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “U.S.-Latin American Relations” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read this overview of U.S.-Latin American relations from the 19th century to the present.  It may help to read this text while viewing the timeline in sub-subunit 4.1.1.  This reading should take you approximately 10 minutes to complete.
 

  • Reading: Council on Foreign Relations’ Task Force Report: “U.S. – Latin American Relations: A New Direction for a New Reality” Link: Council on Foreign Relations’ Task Force Report: “U.S. – Latin American Relations: A New Direction for a New Reality” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Open the link, scroll down below the section entitled “Overview,” and click on the link “Download the full text of the report here.”  Download the PDF file, and read the “Introduction” of the report, from pages 5-12.  This reading will provide a good introduction to some of the key issues in contemporary relations, including the issues of trade, oil, illegal drugs, and immigration—all issues which are treated in more depth in Unit 5.  As you read the report, take notes and answer the following questions:
 1. What is the key idea of the report as stated in the first
paragraph?  
 2. What are some of the ways in which U.S. ties to Latin America
have deepened in recent years?  
 3. Do opinion polls of Latin Americans show increasing or
decreasing favorable attitudes towards the U.S.?   
 4. Why has U.S. devoted so little attention to Latin America in
recent years, despite its importance to U.S. interests?  
 5. Why has the U.S. become less important to many Latin American
countries in recent years?  
 6. What are some of the Council on Foreign Relations’ (the author)
recommendations to improve U.S. relations with Latin America?  
    
 This reading and these questions should take about 2 hours and 20
minutes to complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

4.2 Current Perspectives on US-Latin American Relations   4.2.1 U.S. Stereotypes of Latin American People   - Web Media: YouTube: “Latino Stereotypes and Representation in the Media” Link: YouTube: “Latino Stereotypes and Representation in the Media” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Watch the entire video (10:36 minutes). U.S. citizens often have negative stereotypes towards people from Latin America and the Caribbean; for example, the idea that Mexicans are basically lazy, or that all Latin Americans crossed the border into the U.S. illegally. This video will show the negative stereotypes of Latinos that are often portrayed in the movies and news.  As you watch the video, make a list of the stereotypes that are being portrayed (for example: “Latinos belong to gangs” or “Latinos do not speak English”).
 
This video and note-taking should take about 0.25 hour to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use for the webpage displayed above.

4.2.2 Latin American Perspectives on Relationship with U.S.   - Web Media: YouTube: LinkTV’s “Latin Pulse: U.S. – Latin American Relations” Link: YouTube: LinkTV’s “Latin Pulse: U.S. – Latin American Relations” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: This video (27:50 minutes) provides a good overview of Latin America’s often contentious relationship with the U.S.  As you watch the video, take notes and answer the following study questions:

 1. What is the major issue confronting Latin America’s relationship
to the U.S. today?  
 2. Do most Latin American countries have a generally favorable or
unfavorable view regarding the benefits of free trade?  
    
 This video and these questions should take about 1 hour to
complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use for the
webpage displayed above.

4.2.3 Mexico’s Relationship with the U.S.   - Web Media: YouTube: The Commonwealth Club: Jorge Castaneda’s “Mexico’s Future and Relationship with the U.S.” Link: YouTube: The Commonwealth Club: Jorge Castaneda’s “Mexico’s Future and Relationship with the U.S.” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Jorge Castaneda is a former foreign minister of
Mexico and a renowned scholar and expert on U.S. – Latin American
relations.  In this speech, he will provide some insights concerning
Mexico’s perspective and concerns regarding its relationship with
the U.S.  As you watch this video (1 hour, 8 minutes), take notes
and answer the following questions:  

 1. What are some of the major issues that will require close
cooperation between Mexico and the U.S. in the years to come?  
 2. What are some of the differences between Mexican ways of dealing
with issues and the U.S. government ways?  
    
 This video and these questions should take about 1.75 hours to
complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use for the
webpage displayed above.

4.2.4 Current U.S. Government Perspective on Relationship with Latin America   - Web Media: YouTube: U.S. Department of State’s “Assistant Secretary of State Valenzuela Delivers Remarks on U.S. – Latin American Relations” Link: YouTube: U.S. Department of State’s “Assistant Secretary of State Valenzuela Delivers Remarks on U.S. – Latin American Relations” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Watch this entire video (19:39 minutes) to get the official perspective of the Obama administration on current relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.  As you watch the video, take notes and answer the following questions:

 1. How is the Obama Administration’s approach to Latin America
different from past administrations?  
 2. What issues seem to be most important to the Obama
Administration?  
    
 This video and these questions should take about 1 hour to
complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use for the
webpage displayed above.