U.S. Human Rights Policy and Latin America
"Nowhere did two understandings of U.S. identity—human rights and anticommunism—come more in conflict with each other than they did in Latin America. To refocus U.S. policy on human rights and democracy required a rethinking of U.S. policy as a whole. It required policy makers to choose between policies designed to defeat communism at any cost and those that remain within the bounds of the rule of law."—from the Introduction
Kathryn Sikkink believes that the adoption of human rights policy represents a positive change in the relationship between the United States and Latin America. In Mixed Signals she traces a gradual but remarkable shift in U.S. foreign policy over the last generation. By the 1970s, an unthinking anticommunist stance had tarnished the reputation of the U.S. government throughout Latin America, associating Washington with tyrannical and often brutally murderous regimes. Sikkink recounts the reemergence of human rights as a substantive concern, showing how external pressures from activist groups and the institution of a human rights bureau inside the State Department have combined to remake Washington's agenda, and its image, in Latin America. The current war against terrorism, Sikkink warns, could repeat the mistakes of the past unless we insist that the struggle against terrorism be conducted with respect for human rights and the rule of law.