chapter  Chapter 5
19 Pages

Soviet Policy in Latin America Compared to Other Regions: Trends, Opportunities, and Constraints

WithW. Raymond Duncan

Latin America has emerged from a once low-level interest in Soviet foreign policy perceptions to a region of growing significance. Cuba's Revolution, with its growing Soviet ties and victory in the April 1961 US-sponsored Bay of Pigs episode, eventually changed Moscow's notions of "geographic fatalism." Latin America's increasing importance in Soviet foreign policy is underscored by several emerging trends since Gorbachev came to power in March 1985. Moscow stepped up the number and level of diplomatic contacts with Latin America. Liberation theology contrasts sharply with Islam relative to effects on Soviet opportunism. Liberation theology teaches that revolution is justified as a last resort against the greater violence of tyrants. Major obstacles facing Moscow are essentially economic and political in nature. In the economic category must be included Latin America's debt crisis. Contemporary Soviet perspectives on Latin America probably are two-dimensional in nature. First, Moscow probably sees certain areas as more likely to yield short-term benefits in advancing Soviet foreign policy.