With our upcoming trip to Colombia in January, we have been studying about Latin America this semester and specifically how US foreign policy and US intervention has impacted individual countries and Latin America as a whole. The class has been primarily lecture- and discussion-based, and the discussions have been strong.
The final exam was a series of essays to hear from the students on issues such as communism, US aid, regime change, and foreign investment. Here is an excerpt from the exam of a student. The question asked them to put into writing their thoughts and ideas about governance if they were given the power to decide US policy relative to Latin America.
“Many Latin American countries are very unstable and are mired in poverty. A lot of this is due to corruption and organized crime within the country. These issues lead to the big problem of immigration. The people of Latin America see our country as the very safe, stable county filled with opportunity. Due to instability in their countries, the people of LA will naturally want to come to the US. I would not work to build a wall to keep them away but rather to hit the problem at its heart and focus on making the Latin American countries more stable and less violent so that the people do not have the thought that they need to flee the country. In order to make this happen, I would work with the countries in a very diplomatic way in order to curb corruption/ dictatorship…. Latin America being our closest set of neighboring countries, the US would really benefit having them as strong, dependable, and non-corrupt countries.
To fight off the organized crime and their products entering our country, the US might fight corruption in Latin America. Organized crime groups take advantage of the fact that the country is poor and easily manipulated. By working with the local governments on first making sure that the governments themselves aren’t affected by the corruption, eventually it will open the gate for easy help from the US to provide support and eventually stabilize LA.
In the end, everything connects to the idea of the goal to stabilize LA, step by step, in order to create a better, more diplomatic environment on this side of the world.”
The following is in response to the prompt to write about articulating strong and positive influences that US citizens and the US government have had on Latin America:
“…US foreign policy has contributed to Latin America by standing by its 5 basic pillars: Advancing social services, supporting (renewable) energy future, multilateral engagements, economic expansion (US- Mexico agreement), education (US visas), and ensuring a democratic future (which is the United States’ idea of the most successful government for all).”
It has been fun to see the students’ level of thought, awareness, and global citizenship.