Latin America, like other regions outside the affluent and secure global north, is impacted on in a whole series of ways by the international context within which it exists. This chapter begins with a broad review of the international context of economic and political development in Latin America from the age of colonialism to the present era of globalization. Particular emphasis is placed on the massive changes that took place after the end of the cold war. We then turn to security issues, understood in the broadest sense to include wars and border conflicts but also the debt issue and the increasingly important drugs question. Next there is a shift to the regional dimension with an evaluation of the impact of NAFTA and MERCOSUR (Common Market of the South), which are transforming the north and south of the subcontinent respectively. Finally, we examine the role of Latin America in the world today in terms of international organizations such as the UN (United Nations), the OAS (Organization of American States) and the global social movements concerned with the environment. Our objective is to set the continent firmly within the international context as a conditioning situation for internal developments.
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