In the last decade, Latin America has undergone a series of historic transformations. Major political shifts, unprecedented economic growth, and political leaders challenging US influence and championing regional autonomy, have combined to reshape an emerging new continent.

With ideologies and policies as varying as Venezuela’s Bolivarian socialism, Colombia’s economic liberalism and the centrism of Brazil and Argentina being exercised throughout the region, Empire examines the geopolitical shifts across Latin America and asks what challenges may yet lie ahead.

The time when Latin America just looked to the United States and Europe is over [...] The relationship with the United States will always be tense, because they will always want to keep the status quo, and we will always want to change the status quo.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil 

Increasingly plural and self-confident, Latin America is creating and exploiting a growing international profile - politically and economically. The region’s trade with China, which recently surpassed that between China and the US, is currently worth over $200bn a year and has undergone a staggering 20-fold increase since 2000.

But as intra-regional and South-South ties have strengthened, the challenges have inevitably grown more complex in this new continental order. With competing visions for the future, can Latin American leaders reach consensus?

On the domestic front, Chile and Brazil have recently witnessed mass demonstrations against controversial public spending policies.

The long-running US-led 'war on drugs' while dismantling some of Colombia’s most powerful cartels, has failed to contain the spread of violence and organised crime across borders. Empire scratches beneath the surface of this ‘war’ against the drug trade to expose the machinations of an enduring continental scourge.

While US influence in the region may have experienced a relative decline, Washington still wields considerable power, casting a critical, and at times suspicious, eye over the changes blowing through its former ‘backyard’.

With a burgeoning continent in flux, Empire asks: How has its relationship with the US changed? Who loses and who wins in this new regional order? And what form will a region, characterised by conflicting ideas, take in the future?

Joining us to analyse and uncover some of these issues are: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former president of Brazil; Otto Perez Molina, the president of Guatemala; Cesar Gaviria, the former president of Colombia; and Jeremy McDermott, the co-founder of the South American organised crime research institute, InSight Crime.

We also discuss the future of Latin America and its relationship with the US with our guests: Professor Arlene Beth Tickner from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, who is the editor of a number of books including Thinking International Relations Differently (Worlding Beyond the West); Professor Michael Hardt from Duke University, who is the author of several books including co-authored works Empire and Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire; and Greg Grandin, a professor of history at New York University and author of Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the US and the Rise of the New Imperialism.

This episode of  Empire  can be seen from Sunday, July 28, at the following times GMT: Sunday: 2000; Monday: 1200; Tuesday: 0100; Wednesday: 0600. 

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Source: Al Jazeera