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Book review – Latin Lessons

Financial Times correspondent Hal Weitzman reports on what the White House must do to re-engage with South America.

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(Photo: Natalie Castellino)

LATIN LESSONS: How South America Stopped Listening to the United States and Started Prospering
(Wiley)
Hal Weitzman

A correspondent for the ­Financial Times, Weitzman isn’t in thrall to the anti-U.S. populism that helped sweep the likes of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales into power. But there’s no denying that Venezuela and Bolivia have earned some notable successes via their increased resource nationalism. Their growing economic clout has led to renewed trade ties with China and Russia, even as South America remains mostly an afterthought in Washington.

Until recently, Weitzman served the FT from the Andes, so there’s plenty of first-hand reporting informing this survey of the rise of the new Latin powers and the implications for the American and world economies. The United States needs to re-engage in South America, but Weitzman argues that it is no longer capable of imposing a western capitalist orthodoxy on the region, so the White House will need a strong dose of realism in devising the terms of that engagement. Weitzman also offers a useful reminder of just how dependent the U.S. is on Latin American oil. Despite so much recent attention being given to the Middle East and Canada, American energy security isn’t complete without significantly improved relationships with the south.