The Monroe Doctrine, laid out in 1823 by the then US President James Monroe, warned European powers not to interfere in Latin American affairs. Latin America was considered to be America’s backyard and held inviolable until fairly recently.
To protect US interests there have been numerous interventions, political and military, over the two centuries, the most recent in 2009 in Honduras.
However, both the frequency and strength of the interventions have diminished because of the ineffectiveness of attempted coups, the increasing political and economic independence of the countries, and the lack of interest by the US. With all this has come a dramatic lessening of US clout in the region.
The Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, Min Zhu, recently said that the US influence in Latin America now extends only as far south as the Panama Canal, everything south of that being the commercial domain of China. China has achieved this dominance not by political chicanery but by making investments not tied to ideological or political conditions.
Latin America, of its own volition, has moved left, not extreme left, but left of centre and, in doing so, has improved the lot of the poor throughout, particularly in Brasil, Uruguay, Chile and Venezuela. The only country that has remained in the US orbit, and not left in political orientation, is Colombia, beholden to the US for financial and military aid to fight FARC rebels.
Latin America has also moved ahead of the United States in accepting the role of women in high political office. Brasil, Chile, and Argentina all have women as head of state. Then, there is the long maligned Cuba which has recently shamed the US by sending a contingent of over 400 health workers to Ebola infected countries in West Africa, the largest number from any country.
It seems the greater the progress Latin America has made politically and economically, the less attention and recognition it is afforded by the United States.