Year in review: Latin America 2013

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As we near the end of the year it is customary to assess the impact of events on the future of the Americas.

Last month, in a policy speech delivered at the Organization of American States, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over,” referring to the 190 year old U.S. policy of regional domination.

He added that “the day is long past when America looks out and saw a backyard… This is no backyard. This is the yard – this is the front yard. The hemisphere is growing.”

But as this year comes to a close the region is less democratic, and disunity rather consensus is more prevalent as Washington tries to recalibrate its future with its neighbors. The Obama Doctrine, if there is one, speaks of partnership and as Kerry stated, “about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues.”

Yet we are still divided on how we approach terrorism, narco-trafficking, criminal gangs and other transnational threats that plague our neighborhood. The region remains among the most peaceful in the world. And that is something to celebrate. There have been events that have shaped the news.

Here are some of the issues that most affected current events, and ultimately will shape 2014.

Year in review: Latin America 2013 - The government and rebel negotiators announced a partial agreement covering the guerrillas' participation in national politics if talks reach a final deal to end their decades-old armed conflict. Fom left to right are Venezuelan observer Roy Chaderton, Colombian government representatives Gen. Jorge Mora, Frank Pearl, Sergio Jaramillo, Humberto de la Calle, Norwegian guarantor Dag Nylander, Cuban guarantor Rodolfo Benitez Verson, FARC representatives Ivan Marquez, Pablo Catatumbo, Ricardo Tellez, Andres Paris, and Chilean observer Milenko Skoknic.

Representatives from Colombia’s government negotiation team, left of center, and representatives from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, negotiation team, right side of table, issue a joint statement in front of a sign that reads in Spanish “Peace Dialogues” in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate)

Peace at last?

After 59 years of fighting 2013 was the year of peace negotiations. Havana was the setting for talks between the Government of Colombia and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC, the guerillas force that has caused death and destruction, and one point controlled more than 40 percent of the national territory.

Started in 1999, Plan Colombia, first executed under the government of President Alvaro Uribe and currently by President Juan Manuel Santos, has yielded a successful realignment of the military, greater civilian security, and promise to bring Colombia to a point where an agreement to end the war is near.

A deal on land reform, one of the root causes of the war has been hammered out. Remaining are the political status of the FARC, and how those who perpetrated violence will be brought to justice. But 2014, a presidential election year in Colombia, may also prove to be a year that brings peace at last to one of the longest fought civil wars in the world.

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