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How did the Bush and Clinton presidencies differ in their Latin American policies?

The Bush and Clinton presidencies differed in their Latin American policies primarily in their focus and approach.

George H.W. Bush's presidency (1989-1993) was marked by a continuation of the Cold War policies of his predecessors, with a focus on anti-communism and the promotion of free-market economies. His administration was heavily involved in the Central American peace process, particularly in Nicaragua and El Salvador, where it supported right-wing governments against leftist rebels. The Bush administration also launched the War on Drugs, which significantly impacted Latin America, particularly Colombia and Mexico, leading to increased militarisation and violence in these countries.

In contrast, Bill Clinton's presidency (1993-2001) marked a shift in U.S. policy towards Latin America. While the War on Drugs continued, the focus of Clinton's policy was more on economic integration and the promotion of democracy. This was exemplified by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which aimed to create a free-trade zone between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Clinton also pursued similar free-trade agreements with other Latin American countries. His administration also placed a greater emphasis on human rights, although this was often overshadowed by economic considerations.

However, both presidencies were marked by a certain degree of continuity in U.S. policy towards Latin America. Both Bush and Clinton supported neoliberal economic policies, such as privatisation and deregulation, and both sought to combat drug trafficking and organised crime in the region. Moreover, both administrations were criticised for their handling of specific issues, such as the U.S. intervention in Panama under Bush and the handling of the Mexican peso crisis under Clinton.

In conclusion, while there were significant differences in the focus and approach of the Bush and Clinton administrations towards Latin America, there were also important continuities. The shift from a Cold War focus on anti-communism to a post-Cold War emphasis on economic integration and democracy promotion was a significant change, but the underlying commitment to neoliberal economic policies and the fight against drug trafficking remained constant.

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