About the Latin America Studies Program

The Latin America Studies program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) examines the principal issues, opportunities, and challenges facing the Western Hemisphere in the twenty-first century, and provides timely and insightful commentary and policy recommendations in response to political, social, and economic developments throughout the Americas. While this program follows trends and current events in Latin America generally, its in-depth priorities are reflected in its regional projects: the Global Brazil Initiative, the U.S.-Mexico Initiative, and the Cuba in the Twenty-First Century project.

Latin America is a region of simultaneous, often dueling realities. Behind expanding markets and sustained economic growth lurk deep poverty and high inequality. Despite a spectacular and sustained democratic revival in many countries, entrenched corruption and weak judiciaries undermine the rule of law. While high-tech industries export airplanes, cars, and other advanced manufactured goods, large populations across Latin America rely on tenuous informal economies for both employment income and household consumption. Yet, notwithstanding the profound regional challenges that remain, the current decade bears the promise of sustained progress through much of the region, in the form of the Panama Canal expansion, the evolution of peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC, the consolidation of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc, the ongoing political and economic reforms in Cuba, the development of unconventional oil and gas fields in Brazil and Mexico, and Brazil's hosting of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.

In order to advance a better understanding of these and other hemispheric issues, the Latin America Studies Program conducts outreach to academics and policymakers, including the ongoing Task Force on North America and the Study Group on Marine Disaster Preparedness and Prevention in the Gulf of Mexico. The program also supports frequent meetings and supports the Global Brazil Initiative roundtable series, the U.S.-Mexico Initiative roundtable series, the Cuba in the Twenty-First Century roundtable series, and the Latin America Update roundtable series. The Senior Fellows of the Latin America Studies Program also publish articles, op-eds, and books, including Julia Sweig's twice-monthly column for Folha de São Paulo, and Shannon O'Neil's bi-weekly blog Latin America's Moment.