The Foreign Service Journal, May 2018

34 MAY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL national’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index also gave these countries an average grade of 44 out of 100 (anything below 50 indicates governments are failing to tackle corruption in their own system). There are several policy implications for the United States in all that is brewing in the hemisphere. First, helping Latin Americans control their crime wave would not only help stem the flow of illegal drugs into the United States but, based on recent surveys of the push-and-pull factors that influence emigration, it also could dampen the flow of illegal immigra- tion. Second, promoting more effective governance and the rule of law, and helping authorities combat corruption, are both critical to the creation of more stable democracies. The United States is providing these countries with some assistance through the Merida Program, the Caribbean Basin Security Ini- tiative and the Central American Regional Security Initiative to combat drug trafficking and the crimes associated with it, such as money laundering and bribery. Finally, strengthening our economic ties with the region will help create more jobs there and more reliable trading partners for U.S. businesses. This, in turn, can also dampen the impulse to migrate, reduce the attraction of illegal jobs, and offset the influence of actors such as China and Russia in Latin America. A strong and sustained U.S. presence throughout the hemisphere can also help combat the other nefarious influ- ences that seep across our common borders like trafficking in persons, arms and drugs, as well as, potentially, terrorism. Our foreign policy focus tends to shift with the latest crisis. In the case of the Americas, as I have tried to underscore in this article, the absence of crises does not imply that all is well. Trouble is brewing in Latin America. We need to remain vigi- lant to the disturbing trends and maintain our focus on, and commitment to, the region. The United States and Latin America are inextricably linked by our economies, our shared political principles and security concerns, and the strong bonds between our peoples. Now is not the time to lose sight of all we have to gain, or lose, in Latin America. n