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Detente Scrambles Political Calculus in Latin America

December 18, 2014

The detente between the U.S. and Cuba after nearly 54 years of mutual hostility has the potential to redraw political and economic alliances across the hemisphere that have endured since the Cold War, government officials, diplomats and scholars say.

“We can see that the agreement between the United States and Cuba has created an opening for the entire region to rethink its relationship to the U.S. and each other,” said Milos Alcalay, a former United Nations ambassador under former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

But it won’t be easy for every country to give up long-held animosity toward El Imperio—the empire—as some in the region call the U.S. No country is more likely than Venezuela to feel the effects of the U.S.-Cuba thaw....

“I think a constructive dialogue with Cuba has placed us in a much better place strategically to talk to countries like Argentina, Ecuador and others,” said Alana Tummino, who heads the Cuba Working Group of the Americas Society and Council of the Americas. “Where before we could be criticized for our isolation policy, we can move past that now.”

As an example, Ms. Tummino pointed to a previous flurry of speculation about whether Cuba would be welcomed at the coming Summit of the Americas next year. With the new accord, she said, the summit’s focus can shift to other, more substantial policy issues, even though Cuba is expected to attend....

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