U.S. Security Partnerships in Latin America: How a Lack of Sustainability is Preventing Stability
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This thesis is meant to examine the influence of U.S. security partnerships on Latin American nations. With four major partnerships created in the past fifteen years, it is important to review the successes and failures of these relationships, and see what improvements can be made. Each chapter examines a different partnership, as well as its effect on the partner countries and the region. Chapter One focuses on Plan Colombia and the balloon effect in South America. It argues that Plan Colombia played a part in the balloon effect in Latin America. It did this by observing drug-related crime rates in Colombia, as well as drug-related crime in surrounding states. While not causation, the data showed Plan Colombia likely played a part in the balloon effect’s presence in South America, with neighboring state Peru now the world’s cocaine capital. Chapter Two covers the Mérida Initiative and the United States’ fear of spillover crime from Mexico. This chapter explored whether or not the Mérida Initiative was a preemptive or reactive effort from the United States. It did this by reviewing crime rates on both sides of the border in relation to Mérida funding, and estimated the sustainability of the programs once funding ceased. The data showed that while crime did reduce with Mérida funding, the sustainability was limited after funding stopped. Chapter Three reviews both the Central America Regional Security Initiative as well as the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, and examines the effect of a hegemon’s relationship with a weaker power. This was done by observing crime rates over time, as well as other state concerns such as debt as percentage of GDP, unemployment rates, and GDP per capita, to see how partner countries fared in areas other than security while receiving funds. The data showed mixed results, as some countries showed a decrease in unemployment and crime, while others showed drastic increases in debt as percentage of GDP, unemployment rates, and even crime. Overall, this thesis shows the limited scope and reactive efforts of U.S. security partnerships in Latin America, and how they have affected the region over the past fifteen years.