1. Greater U.S. Engagement
Great power competition is increasingly shaping U.S. engagement in Latin America, from infrastructure finance to “vaccine diplomacy.” In September, U.S. officials traveled to Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama to explore potential investments under the G7’s Build Back Better World program, an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative that has channeled tens of billions of dollars into the region. After falling behind China’s “medical diplomacy,” the United States has sent more than half of its global vaccine donations to Latin America, though China’s vaccine sales far outnumber U.S. deliveries. Chinese investment in Latin America declined in recent years; in 2020, its state banks made no new loans in the region. But major commodity exporters remain dependent on the Chinese market. Latin American governments welcome greater U.S. engagement, but are anxious over U.S.-China tensions and unwilling to choose between Washington and Beijing.