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Is China Winning Latin America?

While the West has largely ignored Latin America, or tried to force the region to bend to its will, China has been offering regional actors huge perks, with none of the conditions (at least not up front). Unless the US and Europe change tack, they could end up losing a critical region – and the new cold war.

MADRID – Is the West losing Latin America? During the Cold War, this question was feverishly discussed in Washington, DC, and beyond. Now, the return of great-power competition and the potential revival of spheres of influence – together with the recent wave of left-wing electoral victories in the region – are giving it renewed salience.

For the West, the looming specter of hot conflict with authoritarian regimes, from Russia to China, has again highlighted Latin America’s importance as a partner. At the same time, however, the United States and its allies are preoccupied by the war in Ukraine, including, not least, its implications for energy markets and economic prosperity.

Political upheaval in Latin America will make effective engagement all the more difficult. Though the region has long been plagued by corruption, inequality, and crises of confidence, it made significant progress in recent years, with poverty reduction – often achieved through commodity-export-funded social-policy experiments – buttressing political stability.

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