Asst. Secretary Valenzuela Spoke to NDN About New Era of Parternship & Respect for US-Latin America

Monday afternoon NDN had the privilege to host Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. He spoke about a new era of partnership and respect between the US and the Americas.

NDN’s Latin American Policy Initiative Chairman, Nelson Cunningham, opened by reminding us that Latin America is a key neighbor which is frequently ignored by Americans. According to Assistant Secretary Valenzuela, in 2010 the Department of State has visited many countries in this region.

The Assistant Secretary noted that on his trips with Secretary Hilary Clinton to Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica and Guatemala he observed that many citizens of those nations were willing to engage with the US.  In his trip to Barbados, he was told by the participating nations of the region’s basin security initiative that they were "glad the US was back with the Caribbean."  These examples demonstrate a friendly desire to communicate lays the foundation for  new era of Latin American foreign policy.

Asisistant Secretary Valenzuela and his team recognized that there is no single formula for a region so diverse and that challenges still lie ahead. That same day marked the anniversary of the government overthrow in Honduras and he expressed how lots must be done by Latin American countries themselves in order to work with the US as partners.

The audience asked a variety of questions which included topics such as Cuba’s embargo, Colombia’s recent presidential elections, Panama’s Free Trade Agreement, Bolivia-US relations, Venezuela’s economic influence, and more.

Valenzuela summarized the Administration's vision for the upcoming years in his blog post for Americas Quarterly:

We are interested in thinking outside the box and working with partners everywhere in the Americas to make our common home safer, more democratic, greener, and more full of opportunities for all of its citizens.

We at NDN look forward to continuing to contribute to this the vital partnership between the U.S. and Latin America.