Of course, it is not just a matter of increas- María Teresa
ing aid. We need fairer, more transparent and Ronderos is
equitable trade relations. Free trade agreements editor-in-chief
of Semana .com
have proven a mixed blessing, in large part due and author
to the structural inequalities that have been of Retratos
incorporated. del Poder
Latin American citizens know that many (2002) and
attempts to fight poverty and improve health Humor (2007).
and education in their countries fail because of Photographed
clientelistic politics, corruption and weak insti- at her offices
tutions unable to properly safeguard fundamen- in Bogotá,
tal citizens´ rights. In this realm, the U.S. has Colombia, 2008.
developed interesting policies in Latin America.
It has helped some countries adopt adversarial
judicial systems to make them more efficient;
it has helped others in institution-building and
corruption control. In Colombia, for example,
the U.S. government and Congress have played
a key role in bringing about transparency in the
military institutions and have exerted pressure
on our own leaders to stop human rights viola-
tions by the Armed Forces.
This is healthy, but the next president must
do more to help strengthen the rule of law, and
protect political institutions from organized
crime and corruption. It will make a huge difference if the U.S. government becomes less
tolerant of corrupt leaders and values more
transparent and open information instead of
continuing its traditional diplomacy and secrecy to maintain the stability of cooperative elites
that support what may be seen as rather narrow
U. S. presidents have taken Latin America for
granted for too long.
In doing so they have overlooked the possibility that Latin American countries could
become valuable partners in change. Latin
American democracies are maturing, some are
advancing toward more consolidated regimes,
others are advancing in a more turbulent and
The outcome of these processes may wel .l be affected by the new vision that the incoming U.S. president conceives for the Americas.