The United States and Latin America

"Some have described the century just passed as the American century, now we look forward. We have a chance to build a century of the Americas, in which all our people, north and south, find the blessings of liberty." 

-- George W. Bush, September 5, 2001 during a state visit by Mexican President Vicente Fox







Lead Scholars: Dr. Jonathan Ng & Dr. Evan D. McCormick

On September 5, 2001, President George Bush optimistically announced that nations across the Western Hemisphere had the opportunity to “build a century of the Americas, in which all our people, north and south, find the blessings of liberty.” At the time, Bush embraced an ambitious diplomatic agenda, pursuing both comprehensive immigration reform and deeper economic integration with Latin America. Yet only days later, the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, DC undermined his blueprint for enhanced relations, while prompting policymakers to reframe regional preoccupations such as immigration and drug trafficking within the Global War on Terror.

Over the next two decades, momentous and unpredictable developments continued to shape hemispheric relations, even as Latin America retained its status as a privileged area of U.S. concern. Under the banner of the Global War on Terror, the United States partnered with Mexico, Colombia, and other countries against transnational criminal groups, as well as guerrilla organizations contesting the prevailing political order. Regional leaders vigorously debated the merits of free trade, while creating new forums for economic cooperation such as ALBA, CELAC, and UNASUR. And the election of President Hugo Chávez in 1998 initiated a pink tide of left-leaning governments that questioned liberal orthodoxy and U.S. leadership.

Within the United States, immigration fueled a larger debate over national identity during a period of increasing political polarization. Both Bush and President Barack Obama faced legislative gridlock, while seeking substantive immigration reform. Later, President Donald Trump galvanized conservative support by advocating more punitive policies and heightened border security.

This series examines the complex trajectory of U.S. relations with Latin America over the first two decades of the twentieth century. Featuring policymakers, journalists, activists, and other voices from across borders, it highlights essential themes such as the Global War on Terror, counter-narcotics strategy, trade policy, the Pink Tide, human rights, and the immigration debate.


David Aguilar
National Chief of the United States
Border Patrol (2001-2010)
Stephen Johnson
Heritage Foundation (1999-2006);
Assistant Secretary of Defense for the
Western Hemisphere Affairs (2007-2009)
John Maisto
Special Assistant to the President and
Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs on the National Security Council (2001-2003);
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (2003-2006)
Roger Noriega
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (2001-2003) 
Matthew Rooney 
Deputy Assistant Secretary for relations with Canada and Mexico

These interviews will remain sealed from public viewing until a date specified in the agreement with each individual.