Aspen Security Forum: Southern Discomfort | Wilson Center
Aspen Security Forum

Aspen Security Forum: Southern Discomfort

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

Thanks to the autocratic Maduro regime, Venezuela is in political and economic free fall, with thousands of its citizens fleeing to other countries in the region and threatening to destabilize them. Autocracy is ascendant in Honduras as well. The once regional powerhouse, Brazil, has been consumed by a crippling corruption crisis for years. And, Mexico continues to be plagued by political and economic corruption and drug-fueled violence. Meanwhile, U.S. immigration policies are alienating our long-time friends and partners, and China is making inroads where we have long dominated. Can we get U.S.-Latin American relations back on track?


Selected Quotes from Cynthia Arnson


“The view of the United States among Mexicans has plummeted to near-historic lows. There was a great deal of positive sentiment towards the United States [and] towards the American people, and [then], since the beginning of the Trump administration, and actually, beginning with the attacks during the campaign on Mexicans as rapists and as criminals, has caused the relationship to decline. And I think that AMLO, much more than his predecessors, will be extremely sensitive to that public opinion and to further insults.”

“I think former Deputy Secretary John Mclachlan put his finger on something very important yesterday when he said that there’s almost two administrations: there’s President Trump talking to his base, tweeting from the White House, [and] making statements at political rallies, and then there [are] Foreign Service professionals throughout the U.S government that are charged with handling this relationship.”

“We’re at a really different moment in Latin American history I think, which is unprecedented. There has been corruption throughout society, not only the government, but the private sector paying bribes – I mean, it takes two sides to make this happen. And what has really emerged is an incredible intolerance for this kind of behavior.”

“There’s a tremendous preference within Latin America… for multilateralism… And why is there that preference for multilateralism? Because a lot of countries in Latin America – from the colonial period on to the Cold War – were the recipients, were the subject of direct intervention either by the United States or other European powers. There is, I think, a withdrawing from the sense that the United States is going to sit and dictate the terms of engagement and a desire to expand the forms of insertion in the international economy.”




  • Cynthia J. Arnson

    Director, Latin American Program
  • Sergio Silva do Amaral

    Ambassador of Brazil to the United States Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Roberta Jacobson

    Senior Advisor, Albright Stonebridge Group; Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico; Former Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Department of State; Mexico Institute Advisory Board Member, Wilson Center
  • Nestor Mendez

    Assistant Secretary General, Organization of American States