The American Left Realigns Its Relationship to Latin America

During a visit to the White House last February after starting his third stint in office, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva bonded with U.S. President Joe Biden over the experience of enduring far-right January insurrections two years apart in their respective capitals. The two leaders, who recently restated their commitment to working together on a host of prominent issues, reportedly hit it off. Lula invited his counterpart to visit Brazil. Biden accepted, but there are still no stated plans for him to visit Latin America. With a presidential campaign on the horizon, it’s hard to imagine when such a trip might take place.

Leave it instead to young members of Congress on the left flank of the Democratic Party to give South America’s progressive leaders and social movements the close attention they deserve from the United States. Earlier this month, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joaquin Castro, Nydia Velázquez, Greg Casar, and Maxwell Frost visited Brazil, Chile, and Colombia to do just that.

The three countries were presumably chosen for their size and relative importance, but also because they are currently governed by democratic—and left-of-center—leaders who are grappling with difficult policy challenges of interest to the United States. The representatives hoped to spur a reconsideration of U.S.-Latin American relations—both for Latin Americans and those in the United States.

“It’s long past time for a realignment of the United States’ relationship to Latin America,” Ocasio-Cortez told the Los Angeles Times before the trip, adding that “the U.S. needs to publicly acknowledge the harms we’ve committed through interventionist and extractive policies, and chart a new course based on trust and mutual respect.”

Read the full piece in Foreign Policy.