Latin America’s New Regionalism

We live in a world crisscrossed by borders, drawn and redrawn throughout history, chosen by fancy or caprice, and all too often defended by bloodshed. They have always been imperfect, and today their flaws are visible in new ways.

Waves of immigrants, driven from their homes by poverty and desperation, blend one nation’s struggles into another’s. Climate change caused by environmental destruction in one place can cause floods, storms, drought, and famine anyplace, and easy global travel means that diseases travel more quickly. Increasingly, we must recognize that our borders are not fortress walls. They are simply lines that we have sketched in the air.

In short, no nation on this changing, shrinking planet can truly address its own problems in isolation. Nowhere is this more true than in Latin America and the Caribbean, where the uneven blows of history and varied national policies have resulted in a patchwork of fates for our many peoples. Today – sometimes across borders, sometimes within them – once-unthinkable wealth exists alongside extreme poverty and all its social ills. Ours is a region of cruel contrasts.

Fortunately, many countries in this part of the world have recognized that regional welfare must be addressed as a regional challenge. I am proud to list Costa Rica among them. Our nation may be small, but our commitment to improving the well-being of this region is anything but.