Filling the Vacuum: New Players in the Geopolitical Backyard of the United States?
At the end of the Cold War, the attention of the United States was drawn away from its own neighbouring region, Latin America. Events in the Balkans and the Middle East, besides others, and the fall of the Soviet Union left the region unattended, leaving a vacuum there. Latin American states slowly found their way back to democracy, although after a short period most of them tried a different route than before: the populations of several countries elected left-wing governments one after the other. The phenomenon known as Pink Tide changed the political landscape of the region not just domestically but also with regards to foreign relations: governments started to look for allies other than the US and other countries in the Western World. In parallel to these changes, China started to reach out for resources, and Russia rebooted its strategic views about its own global role — thus some of the new connections. Additionally, however, in the shadow of these large-scale steps, smaller steps by a distant regional power were also taken: Iran, and its proxy, the Hezbollah, as well as Lebanon, also set foot in Latin America. The paper aims to focus on these actors, with special regard to Iran and its growing influence in certain areas of the region.