Latin American Affairs

We’re tracking 139 Congressional Research Service reports in this topic area. RSS icon

Honduras: Background and U.S. Relations

Honduras, a Central American nation of 9 million people, has had close ties with the United States for many years. The country served as a base for U.S. operations designed to counter Soviet influence in Central America during the 1980s, and it continues to host a U.S. military presence and cooperate on antidrug efforts today. Trade and investment linkages are also long-standing and have grown stronger since the implementation of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) in 2006. In recent years, instability in Honduras—including a 2009 coup and...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2018 Appropriations: Independent Agencies and General Provisions

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bills include funding for more than two dozen independent agencies in addition to the larger entities in the bill (Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, the District of Columbia, and the judiciary). Among these are Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Election Commission (FEC), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), General Services Administration (GSA), National...

Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations

Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) pose the greatest crime threat to the United States, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) National Drug Threat Assessment published in October 2017. These organizations have for years been identified for their strong links to drug trafficking, money laundering, and other violent crimes. These criminal groups have trafficked heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, and, increasingly, the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. U.S. overdoses due to opioid consumption sharply increased to a record level in 2016,...

Cuba: U.S. Policy in the 115th Congress

Cuba remains a one-party authoritarian state with a poor record on human rights. Current President Miguel Díaz-Canel succeeded Raúl Castro on April 19, 2018, although Castro is continuing in his position as first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party. Over the past decade, Cuba has implemented gradual market-oriented economic policy changes, but critics maintain that it has not taken enough action to foster sustainable economic growth. Most observers do not anticipate significant policy changes under Díaz-Canel, at least in the short term, but the president faces the enormous challenges of...

Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations

Venezuela remains in a deep political crisis under the authoritarian rule of President Nicolás Maduro of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). On May 20, 2018, Maduro defeated Henri Falcón, a former governor, in a presidential election boycotted by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) of opposition parties and dismissed by the United States, the European Union, and 18 Western Hemisphere countries as illegitimate. Maduro, who was narrowly elected in 2013 after the death of President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), is unpopular. Nevertheless, he has used the courts, security forces, and...

Canada-U.S. Relations

Relations between the United States and Canada traditionally have been close, bound together by a common 5,500-mile border—“the longest undefended border in the world”—as well as by shared history and values. The countries have long-standing mutual security commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and continue to work together to address international security challenges, such as the Islamic State insurgency in Iraq and Syria. Canada and the United States also maintain close intelligence and law enforcement ties...

Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances

Restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba have constituted a key and often contentious component in U.S. efforts to isolate Cuba’s communist government since the early 1960s. Such restrictions are part of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), the overall embargo regulations administered by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Various Administrations have eased and tightened the restrictions over the years as U.S. policy toward Cuba has changed.

The Obama Administration lifted all restrictions on family travel and remittances in 2009. In 2011, the...

Violence Against Journalists in Mexico: In Brief

Over the past decade, at least 74 journalists have been killed in Mexico and many more have been threatened or attacked. Although violence against journalists is occurring within the context of a broader security crisis, the United Nations (U.N.) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression have asserted that such crimes “attack the roots of democratic life in Mexico.” Perhaps partially as a result of international pressure, the Mexican government recently has reported some progress in resolving emblematic cases of journalists who were...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: FY2018 Appropriations

The United States provides foreign assistance to the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean to support development and other U.S. objectives. U.S. policymakers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to promoting democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Over the past year, the Trump Administration has sought to reduce foreign aid significantly and refocus U.S. assistance efforts in the region to address U.S. domestic concerns, such as irregular migration and transnational crime.

FY2018...

Cuba Sanctions: Legislative Restrictions Limiting the Normalization of Relations

U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba date back to the early 1960s when the Cuban government under Fidel Castro began to build a repressive communist dictatorship and aligned with the Soviet Union. The trade embargo was first imposed in 1962 under the authority of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trading with the Enemy Act and soon broadened to include a prohibition on most financial transactions with Cuba. In 1963, the Department of the Treasury issued the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR); they remain the main body of embargo regulations today, and have been amended many times...

Guatemala: Political and Socioeconomic Conditions and U.S. Relations

Guatemala, the most populous Central American country, with a population of 16.3 million, has been consolidating its transition to democracy since the 1980s. Guatemala has a long history of internal conflict, including a 36-year civil war (1960-1996) during which the Guatemalan military held power and over 200,000 people were killed or disappeared. A democratic constitution was adopted in 1985, and a democratically elected government was inaugurated in 1986.

President Jimmy Morales, a political newcomer, took office in January 2016, having campaigned on an anti-corruption platform. The...

Organization of American States: Background and Issues for Congress

The Organization of American States (OAS) is a regional multilateral organization that includes all 35 independent countries of the Western Hemisphere (though Cuba currently does not participate). It was established in 1948 as a forum in which the nations of the hemisphere could engage one another and address issues of mutual concern. Today, the OAS concentrates on four broad objectives: democracy promotion, human rights protection, economic and social development, and regional security cooperation. It carries out a variety of activities to advance these goals, often providing policy...

Latin America and the Caribbean: Issues in the 115th Congress

Geographic proximity has ensured strong linkages between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean, based on diverse U.S. interests, including economic, political, and security concerns. The United States is a major trading partner and the largest source of foreign investment for many countries in the region, with free-trade agreements enhancing economic linkages with 11 countries. The region is a large source of U.S. immigration, both legal and illegal; geographic proximity and economic and security conditions are major factors driving migration trends. Curbing the flow of...

Ecuador: In Brief

Ecuador is a small, oil-producing country of 16 million inhabitants located on the west coast of South America between Colombia and Peru. In 2017, Ecuador was considered to have the third-largest proven reserves of crude oil in South America, with 8.3 billion barrels. It is the smallest member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Petroleum is Ecuador’s largest export to the United States, the country’s top trade partner. With the reduction in crude oil price since 2014, Ecuador’s earnings have fallen after years of strong growth.

Former President Rafael Correa...

Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations

Congress has maintained significant interest in Mexico, an ally and top trade partner. In recent decades, U.S.-Mexican relations have been strengthened through cooperative management of the 2,000-mile border, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and security cooperation under the Mérida Initiative. Relations have recently been tested, however, by President Donald J. Trump’s shifts in U.S. immigration and trade policies.

President Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is in the final year of his six-year term. During 2013, Peña Nieto shepherded...

Haiti’s Political and Economic Conditions: In Brief

Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic; Haiti occupies the western third of the island. Since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, Haiti has struggled to overcome its centuries-long legacy of authoritarianism, extreme poverty, and underdevelopment. Although significant progress has been made in improving governance, democratic institutions remain weak. Poverty remains massive and deep, and economic disparity is wide. In proximity to the United States, and with a chronically unstable political environment and fragile economy, Haiti has been an ongoing...

Colombia’s Changing Approach to Drug Policy

Colombia is one of the largest producers of cocaine globally, and it also produces heroin bound for the United States. Counternarcotics policy has long been a key component of the U.S.-Colombian relationship, which some analysts have described as “driven by drugs.” In recent years, Colombia revised its approach to counternarcotics policy, which may have implications for the U.S.-Colombian relationship going forward. On September 13, 2017, President Trump cited the recent spike in Colombia’s cocaine production as the reason he was reserving the option to decertify Colombia as a cooperating...

Colombia: Background and U.S. Relations

Colombia is the third most populous country in Latin America, with roughly 49 million inhabitants. A key U.S. ally in the region, Colombia endured an internal armed conflict for half a century. Drug trafficking has fueled the violence by funding both left-wing and right-wing armed groups. In the late 1990s, some analysts feared Colombia—threatened by a multisided, violent conflict—would become a failed state. The Colombian government defied those predictions, however, through an evolving security strategy known as Plan Colombia. Originally designed as a six-year program, Plan Colombia...

El Salvador: Background and U.S. Relations

Congress has significant interest in El Salvador, a small Central American country that has had a large percentage of its population living in the United States since the country’s civil conflict (1980-1992). During the 1980s, the U.S. government spent billions of dollars supporting the Salvadoran government’s efforts against an insurgency led by the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). Three decades later, the United States is working with the country’s second democratically elected FMLN Administration.

President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a former guerrilla commander...

Paraguay: In Brief

Paraguay is a South American country wedged between Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil. It is about the size of California but has a population of less than 7 million. The country is known for its rather homogenous culture—a mix of Latin and Guarani influences, with 90% of the population speaking Guarani, a pre-Columbian language, in addition to Spanish. The Paraguayan economy is one of the most agriculturally dependent in the hemisphere and is largely shaped by the country’s production of cattle, soybeans, and other crops. In 2016, Paraguay grew by 4.1%; it is projected to sustain about 4.3%...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2017 Appropriations: Independent Agencies and General Provisions

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bills include funding for more than two dozen independent agencies in addition to the larger entities in the bill (Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, the District of Columbia, and the judiciary). Among these are Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Election Commission (FEC), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), General Services Administration (GSA), National...

U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond

Ten years after the Mexican government launched an aggressive, military-led campaign against drug trafficking and organized crime, violent crime continues to threaten citizen security and governance in parts of Mexico, including in cities along the U.S. southwest border. Organized crime-related violence in Mexico declined from 2011 to 2014 but rose in 2015 and again in 2016. Analysts estimate that the violence may have claimed more than 109,000 lives since December 2006. High-profile cases—particularly the enforced disappearance and murder of 43 students in Guerrero in September 2014—have...

Argentina: Background and U.S. Relations

Argentina, a South American country with a population of almost 44 million, has had a vibrant democratic tradition since its military relinquished power in 1983. Current President Mauricio Macri—the leader of the center-right Republican Proposal and the candidate of the Let’s Change coalition representing center-right and center-left parties—won the 2015 presidential race. He succeeded two-term President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, from the center-left faction of the Peronist party known as the Front for Victory, who in turn had succeeded her husband, Néstor Kirchner, in 2007. Macri’s...

U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America: Policy Issues for Congress

Central America has received renewed attention from U.S. policymakers over the past few years as the region has become a major transit corridor for illicit drugs and a significant source of irregular migration to the United States. These narcotics and migrant flows are the latest symptoms of deep-rooted challenges in several countries in the region, including widespread insecurity, fragile political and judicial systems, and high levels of poverty and unemployment. Although the Obama Administration and governments in the region launched new initiatives designed to improve conditions in...

Zika Virus: CRS Experts

In late 2015, health officials in Brazil recognized a marked increase in the number of infants born with microcephaly (from Greek, meaning “small head”), a birth defect that may accompany significant, permanent brain damage. Although not conclusive, the increase in microcephaly is suspected to be related to the emergence of Zika virus infections in Brazil early in 2015.

Zika virus is related to the viruses that cause yellow fever, dengue, West Nile, and Japanese encephalitis viruses. Historically Zika virus was found in Africa. Since 2007, Zika transmission has also occurred in Southeast...

U.S.-Mexican Water Sharing: Background and Recent Developments

The United States and Mexico share the waters of the Colorado River and Rio Grande pursuant to binational agreements. Increasing water demands and reduced supplies deriving from drought and air temperatures increase the challenges and significance of reliable water sharing.

The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) is charged with addressing issues that arise during application of binational water treaties. The IBWC is a binational entity with a U.S. Section that operates under foreign policy guidance from the U.S. Department of State. Under the binational 1944 Water Treaty,...

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Trends and FY2017 Appropriations

Geographic proximity has forged strong linkages between the United States and the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, with U.S. interests encompassing economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policymakers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing democracy and open markets since the 1990s. During the Obama Administration, U.S. policy toward the region chiefly sought to strengthen democratic governance, defend human rights, improve citizen security, enhance social inclusion...

Nicaragua: In Brief

This report discusses Nicaragua’s current politics, economic development, and relations with the United States, and it provides context for Nicaragua’s controversial reelection of President Daniel Ortega late last year. After its civil war ended, Nicaragua began to establish a democratic government in the early 1990s. Its institutions remained weak, however, and they have become increasingly politicized since the late 1990s. Ortega was a Sandinista (Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional, FSLN) leader when the Sandinistas overthrew the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in 1979. Ortega was...

Venezuela: Issues for Congress, 2013-2016

Although historically the United States had close relations with Venezuela, a major oil supplier, friction in bilateral relations increased under the leftist, populist government of President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), who died in 2013 after battling cancer. After Chávez’s death, Venezuela held presidential elections in which acting President Nicolás Maduro narrowly defeated Henrique Capriles of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), with the opposition alleging significant irregularities. In 2014, the Maduro government violently suppressed protests and imprisoned a major...

Cuba: Issues and Actions in the 114th Congress

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. In 2013, Raúl began his second and final five-year term, which is scheduled to end in February 2018, when he would be 86 years of age. Castro has implemented a number of market-oriented economic policy changes over the past several years. An April 2016 Cuban Communist Party congress endorsed the current gradual pace of Cuban economic reform. Few observers expect...

Latin America and the Caribbean: Key Issues and Actions in the 114th Congress

U.S. Interests and Policy

Geographic proximity has ensured strong linkages between the United States and the Latin American and Caribbean region, based on diverse U.S. interests, including economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policy toward the region under the Obama Administration focused on four priorities: promoting economic and social opportunity; ensuring citizen security; strengthening effective democratic institutions; and securing a clean energy future. There was substantial continuity in U.S. policy toward the region during the first six years of the Obama...

Colombia’s Peace Process Through 2016

In August 2012, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the government was engaged in exploratory peace talks with the violent leftist insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in a bid to resolve a nearly 50-year internal armed conflict. The secret, initial dialogue between the Santos government and the FARC’s leadership led to the opening of formal peace talks with the FARC—the oldest, largest, and best-financed guerrilla organization in Latin America. Formal talks began in Oslo, Norway, in October 2012 and then, as planned, moved to Havana, Cuba,...

Latin America: Terrorism Issues

Compared to other parts of the world, the potential threat emanating from terrorism is low in most countries in Latin America. Most terrorist acts occur in the Andean region of South America, committed by two Colombian guerrilla groups—the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN)—and one Peruvian guerrilla group, the Shining Path (SL). All three of these groups have been designated by the U.S. State Department as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). The FARC, however, has been engaged in peace negotiations with the Colombian government since...

Uruguay: In Brief

Uruguay is a small nation of 3.4 million people located on the Atlantic coast of South America between Brazil and Argentina. The country stands out in Latin America for its strong democratic institutions; high per capita income; and low levels of corruption, poverty, and inequality. As a result of its domestic success and commitment to international engagement, Uruguay plays a more influential role in regional and international affairs than its size might suggest.

Uruguay has drawn increased congressional attention in recent years as a result of several high-profile and controversial...

Trafficking in Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean

Countries in Latin America serve as source, transit, and destination countries for trafficking in persons (TIP). Victims are exploited within their own countries and trafficked to other countries in the region. Latin America is also a primary source region for people trafficked to the United States, including by transnational organized crime groups. In FY2015, Mexico was the primary country of origin for foreign trafficking victims certified as eligible to receive U.S. assistance. Recent victims identified in the United States also have originated in Brazil and Central America. Smaller...

Gangs in Central America

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and its main rival, the “18th Street” gang, continue to undermine citizen security and subvert government authority in parts of Central America. Gang-related violence has been particularly acute in El Salvador, Honduras, and urban areas in Guatemala, contributing to some of the highest homicide rates in the world. Congress has maintained an interest in the effects of gang-related crime and violence on governance, citizen security, and investment in Central America. Congress has examined the role that gang-related violence has played in fueling mixed migration...

The 2016 Olympic Games: Health, Security, Environmental, and Doping Issues

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5-21, 2016, and will be followed by the Paralympic Games, September 7-18, 2016. Notably, these are the first games to be hosted by a South American city. Reportedly, 10,500 athletes from 206 countries will participate in the Olympics, including 555 athletes from the United States. Most Olympic events will take place in and around Rio de Janeiro. In addition to Rio de Janeiro, soccer matches will be held in the cities of Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Manaus, São Paulo, and Salvador.

Host countries and cities often have to...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2016 Appropriations: Independent Agencies and General Provisions

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill funds more than two dozen independent agencies performing a wide range of functions, such as managing federal real property, regulating financial institutions, and delivering mail. These agencies include Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Election Commission (FEC), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), General Services Administration...

Zika Virus in Latin America and the Caribbean: U.S. Policy Considerations

Congress is debating how to respond to an ongoing outbreak of Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that has no treatment or vaccine and can cause microcephaly—a severe birth defect—and other neurological complications. As of June 16, 2016, 60 countries and territories had reported mosquito-borne transmission of the virus, 39 of which are in Latin America and the Caribbean and are reporting cases of Zika for the first time. Brazil, which has registered the most confirmed cases of Zika in Latin America, will host the summer Olympics in August 2016. Scientists expect that travel destinations...

Peru: Politics, Economy, and Elections

This report provides an overview of Peru’s political, economic, and security conditions and of U.S.-Peruvian relations.

As President Ollanta Humala is nearing the end of his five-year term, Peru held national elections for the presidency and the 130-seat unicameral legislature on April 10, 2016. Because none of the presidential candidates won an absolute majority, a runoff was held June 5 between two center-right candidates. Economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski defeated former congresswoman Keiko Fujimori by less than 1% of the vote, 50.12% to 49.88%.

For months, Fujimori had maintained a...

Unaccompanied Alien Children: CRS Experts

Click here and type your Summary

Unaccompanied Children from Central America: Foreign Policy Considerations

Since FY2011, the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) traveling to the United States from the “northern triangle” nations of Central America—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—has increased sharply. U.S. authorities encountered more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors from the region at the U.S. border in FY2014, a more than 1,200% increase compared to FY2011. This unexpected surge of children strained U.S. government resources and created a complex crisis with humanitarian implications. U.S. apprehensions of unaccompanied minors from the northern triangle declined by 45% in...

President Obama's Historic Visit to Cuba

This report briefly discusses the details of President Obama's visit to Cuba. Before the trip, the White House set forth the goals of the visit, stating that the President would build on progress toward normalizing relations, including advancing commercial and people-to-people ties and expressing support for human rights.

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau's State Visit, March 2016

This report briefly discusses Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's scheduled visit to the United States on March,10 2016. It will be the first state visit by a Canadian leader since 1997, when then-President Clinton hosted then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

Heroin Production in Mexico and U.S. Policy

This report discusses Mexico's role as an illicit drug suppler to the U.S, specifically focusing on Heroin production and trafficking.

Brazil: Background and U.S. Relations

The United States traditionally has enjoyed robust economic and political relations with Brazil, which is the fifth most populous country and ninth-largest economy in the world. Brazil is recognized by the Obama Administration as a “major global player” and an “indispensable partner” on issues ranging from international development to climate change. Administration officials have often highlighted Brazil’s status as a multicultural democracy, referring to the country as a natural partner that shares values and goals with the United States. Bilateral ties have been strained from time to...

Guatemala: One President Resigns; Another Elected, to Be Inaugurated January 14

This report discusses the transfer of power to the newly-elected president of Guatemala and its context, following the resignation of the former president and vice-president, their arrest for government corruption, and the succeeding interim government.

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2016 Appropriations

Geographic proximity has forged strong linkages between the United States and the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, with critical U.S. interests encompassing economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policymakers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Current U.S. policy is designed to promote economic and social opportunity, ensure the safety of the region’s citizens, strengthen effective democratic institutions, and secure...

President Obama's $1 Billion Foreign Aid Request for Central America

This report discusses the Obama Administration's recent request for over $1 billion in foreign assistance during FY2016 to support a whole-of-government "U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America."

Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal: CRS Experts

Fossil fuels play a dominant role in U.S. energy. The United States is a major producer and consumer of oil (and petroleum products), natural gas, and coal. U.S. fossil fuel reserves, production, processing and refining, distribution, markets, and use are of perennial interest among policymakers and the public. Ongoing concerns include retail gasoline prices, oil and other commodity markets, potential for expanded domestic supply, environmental effects of continued fossil combustion, and the benefits and drawbacks of trade in these commodities. The following tables provide access to names...

Haiti Under President Martelly: Current Conditions and Congressional Concerns

Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, Haiti has struggled to overcome its centuries-long legacy of authoritarianism, extreme poverty, and underdevelopment. Economic and social stability improved considerably, and many analysts believed Haiti was turning a corner toward sustainable development when it was set back by a massive earthquake in January 2010 that devastated much of the capital of Port-au-Prince. Although it is recovering, poverty remains massive and deep, and economic disparity is wide: Haiti...

Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress

Central America faces significant security challenges. Criminal threats, fragile political and judicial systems, and social hardships such as poverty and unemployment contribute to widespread insecurity in the region. Consequently, improving security conditions in these countries is a difficult, multifaceted endeavor. Since U.S. drug demand contributes to regional security challenges and the consequences of citizen insecurity in Central America are potentially far-reaching—as demonstrated by the increasing number of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees arriving at the U.S. border—the...

Argentina Votes for Change in 2015 Presidential Election

This report briefly discusses the November 22, 2015 elections in Argentina. Mauricio Macri defeated Daniel Scioli. In a close race, Macri, the mayor of Buenos Aires, took 51.4% of the vote compared to 48.6% for Scioli, the governor of Buenos Aires province.

Chile: Background and U.S. Relations

Chile, located along the Pacific coast of South America, is a politically stable, upper-middle-income nation of 18 million people. In 2013, Michelle Bachelet and her center-left “New Majority” coalition won the presidency and sizeable majorities in both houses of the Chilean Congress after campaigning on a platform of ambitious reforms designed to reduce inequality and improve social mobility. Since her inauguration to a four-year term in March 2014, President Bachelet has signed into law significant changes to the tax, education, and electoral systems. She has also proposed a number of...

Elections in Haiti

This report briefly discusses various issues regarding the election process in Haiti. Haiti is in the midst of a national election cycle to fill all 119 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, 20 seats in the 30-seat Senate, and most municipal offices - and to elect a new president.

Colombian Peace Talks Breakthrough: A Possible End- Game?

This report briefly discusses the recent breakthrough reached in talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) just a day after Pope Francis left Cuba, following more than 40 rounds of discussions held in Havana since November 2012.

Pope Francis in Cuba

This report briefly discusses Pope Francis' visit to Cuba from September 19-22, 2015. This was the third papal visit to Cuba, following those by Pope John Paul II in 1998 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.

Mexico's Oil and Gas Sector: Background, Reform Efforts, and Implications for the United States

The future of oil and natural gas production in Mexico is of importance for both Mexico’s economic growth, as well as for U.S. energy security, a key congressional interest. Mexico is a top trade partner and the third-largest crude oil supplier to the United States. Mexico’s state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) remains an important source of government revenue even as it is struggling to counter declining oil production and reserves. Due to an inability to meet rising demand, Mexico has also significantly increased natural gas imports from the United States. Still, gas shortages...

Canada's October 2015 Elections

This report discusses the political climate in Canada, leading up to Canada's next election, scheduled for October 19, 2015. The outcome of the election may have implications for the United States, which is Canada's largest trading partner, largest energy consumer, and NATO ally.

Pope Francis and Selected Global Issues: Background for Papal Address to Congress

Pope Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio) assumed the papacy on March 13, 2013, following the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), who had served as pope since the death of St. Pope John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtya) in 2005. The pope, respectfully referred to as “Your Holiness,” serves as head of the Holy See (diocese) of Rome and as the leader of the world’s roughly 1.2 billion Catholics. He is the first pope elected from Latin America, the first Jesuit pope (an order of priests founded by Ignatius Loyola), and the first pope in recent times who spent much of his...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2015 Appropriations

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44172 Summary The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. In its current form, it has existed since the 2007 reorganization of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. The House and Senate FSGG bills fund nearly the same agencies, with the exception of the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which is...

The Dominican Republic: Tensions with Haiti over Citizenship and Migration Issues

This report discusses the dispute between the Dominican Republic and Haiti regarding the citizenship status of some 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent, as well as undocumented migrants in the Dominican Republic, which threatens to exacerbate tensions between the two neighbors.

Reestablishment of Diplomatic Relations with Cuba

This report discusses the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba and to reopen embassies in their respective capitals (announced July 1, 2015). It briefly describes the U.S.'s new policy approach towards Cuba and the congressional response to the changes.

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY2015 Appropriations

Geographic proximity has forged strong linkages between the United States and the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, with critical U.S. interests encompassing economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policy makers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Current U.S. policy is designed to promote economic and social opportunity, ensure citizen security, strengthen effective democratic institutions, and secure a clean energy...

Latin America and the Caribbean: Key Issues for the 113th Congress

Geographic proximity has ensured strong linkages between the United States and the Latin American and Caribbean region, with diverse U.S. interests, including economic, political, and security concerns. U.S. policy toward the region under the Obama Administration has focused on four priorities: promoting economic and social opportunity; ensuring citizen security; strengthening effective democratic institutions; and securing a clean energy future. There was substantial continuity in U.S. policy toward the region during the first six years of the Obama Administration, which pursued some of...

Latin America and Climate Change

This report briefly discusses recent policy efforts in Latin America to confront climate change and the Obama Administrations' Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA).

Brazil's October 2014 Presidential Election

This report briefly discusses the results of Brazil's recent elections and potential policy shifts.

Border Security: CRS Experts

The following table lists the names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns related to border security. Policy areas identified include the following: Mission: scope, magnitude, relationship to departmental mission, functions and their interrelationships. Border surveillance: airports and air space; detection of nuclear and radiological materials; land borders; seaports and waterways. Immigration and foreign visitors: immigration; border “look out” systems; illegal entry; visa issuance and alien tracking. Transnational issues: border violence; foreign cooperation with...

Unaccompanied Alien Children: Potential Factors Contributing to Recent Immigration

Since FY2008, the growth in the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras seeking to enter the United States has increased substantially. Total unaccompanied child apprehensions increased from about 8,000 in FY2008 to 52,000 in the first 8 ½ months of FY2014. Since 2012, children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (Central America’s “northern triangle”) account for almost all of this increase. Apprehension trends for these three countries are similar and diverge sharply from those for Mexican children. Unaccompanied child...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2014 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill provides funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. Among those independent agencies are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded in the House through the...

Trafficking in Persons: U.S. Policy and Issues for Congress

Trafficking in persons (TIP) for the purposes of exploitation is believed to be one of the most prolific areas of contemporary international criminal activity and is of significant interest to the United States and the international community as a serious human rights concern. TIP is both an international and a domestic crime that involves violations of labor, public health, and human rights standards, and criminal law.

In general, the trafficking business feeds on conditions of vulnerability, such as youth, gender, poverty, ignorance, social exclusion, political instability, and ongoing...

“Leahy Law” Human Rights Provisions and Security Assistance: Issue Overview

Congressional interest in the laws and processes involved in conditioning U.S. assistance to foreign security forces on human rights grounds has grown in recent years, especially as U.S. Administrations have increased emphasis on expanding U.S. partnerships and building partnership capacity with foreign military and other security forces. Congress has played an especially prominent role in initiating, amending, supporting with resources, and overseeing implementation of long-standing laws on human rights provisions affecting U.S. security assistance.

First sponsored in the late 1990s by...

Financial Services and General Government: FY2013 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill provides funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. Among those independent agencies are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded in the House through the...

Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. The government of Raúl Castro has implemented limited economic policy changes, including an expansion of self-employment. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous economic goals that, if implemented, could significantly alter Cuba’s state-dominated economic model. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system....

Latin America and the Caribbean: U.S. Policy and Key Issues for Congress in 2012

Geographic proximity has ensured strong linkages between the United States and the Latin American and Caribbean region, with diverse U.S. interests, including economic, political and security concerns. U.S. policy toward the region under the Obama Administration has focused on four priorities: promoting economic and social opportunity; ensuring citizen security; strengthening effective democratic institutions; and securing a clean energy future. There has been substantial continuity in U.S. policy toward the region under the Obama Administration, which has pursued some of the same basic...

Mexican Migration to the United States: Policy and Trends

History and geography have given Mexico a unique status in the U.S. immigration system, and have made the Mexico-U.S. migration flow the largest in the world. Mexicans are the largest group of U.S. migrants across most types of immigration statuses—a fact that may have important implications for how Congress makes U.S. immigration policy. This report reviews the history of immigration policy and migration flows between the countries and the demographics of Mexicans within the United States. It also analyzes contemporary issues in U.S. immigration policy and the impact Mexico may have on...

Latin America and the Caribbean: Illicit Drug Trafficking and U.S. Counterdrug Programs

Drug trafficking is viewed as a primary threat to citizen security and U.S. interests in Latin America and the Caribbean despite decades of anti-drug efforts by the United States and partner governments. The production and trafficking of popular illicit drugs—cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and methamphetamine—generate a multi-billion dollar black market in which Latin American criminal and terrorist organizations thrive. These groups challenge state authority in source and transit countries where governments are often fragile and easily corrupted. According to the Department of Justice,...

Financial Services and General Government: FY2012 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies. Among those independent agencies are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is funded in the House through the...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2011 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the Small Business Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, and the United States Postal Service.

The FSGG FY2010 appropriations were provided through P.L. 111-117, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010. P.L. 111-117 provided $46.265 billion for FSGG agencies in FY2010. In addition, P.L. 111-80...

FY2010 Supplemental for Wars, Disaster Assistance, Haiti Relief, and Other Programs

The Administration requested $64.3 billion in FY2010 supplemental appropriations: $5.1 billion to replenish the U.S. Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); $33 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) primarily for deploying 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan; $4.5 billion in war-related foreign aid; and $2.8 billion for Haiti earthquake-related relief and reconstruction aid; $243 million for activities related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; $600 million for border security, and $129 million to reduce backlogs in patent requests;...

Haiti Earthquake: Crisis and Response

The largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti devastated parts of the country, including the capital, on January 12, 2010. The quake, centered about 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, had a magnitude of 7.0. A series of strong aftershocks have followed. Experts estimate the earthquake caused $8 to $14 billion in damage. Approximately 3 million people, roughly one-third of the overall population, have been affected by the earthquake with estimates ranging from 1.2 to 2 million people displaced. The government of Haiti is reporting an estimated 230,000 deaths and 300,600 injured. In the...

Chile Earthquake: U.S. and International Response

On February 27, 2010, an earthquake of magnitude 8.8 struck off the coast of central Chile. Centered 70 miles northeast of Chile’s second-largest city, Concepción, at a depth of 22 miles, the earthquake was the second largest ever recorded in Chile and the fifth largest recorded worldwide since 1900. Over 100 aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 or greater were recorded following the initial earthquake. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which struck Chile’s coast roughly 20 minutes after the earthquake and moved 2,000 feet onto shore in some places, devastated parts of the country. Although...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2010 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On May 7, 2009, the Obama Administration delivered its FY2010 budget request to...

Paraguay: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations

Paraguay, a landlocked nation in the center of South America, has friendly relations with the United States and has been a traditional ally. Paraguay’s turbulent political history and tradition of political authoritarianism have resulted in international isolation that the country is seeking to overcome. The population of 6.9 million people is one the most homogenous mestizo populations in the hemisphere. Paraguay’s largely agrarian economy has grown well in recent years on the strength of global commodity prices. However, in 2009, a severe drought and the impact of the global economic...

2009 H1N1 "Swine Flu": CRS Experts

This report includes a table which provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to swine influenza A virus (H1N1). Policy areas identified include: Identification, diagnosis, and surveillance of the virus; Treatment and prevention: antiviral drugs (Tamiflu, Relenza) and vaccines; Declarations of emergencies; Official plans and organizational responsibilities; and Restrictions on travel and trade.

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2009 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On September 30, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing...

Latin America and the Caribbean: Issues for the 110th Congress

Over the past two decades, the Latin America and Caribbean region has made enormous strides in terms of political and economic development, with regular free and fair elections the norm in most countries. Although the region overall experienced an economic setback in 2002-2003, it rebounded from 2004-2007, with strong economic growth. In 2008, however, the advent of the global financial crisis and U.S. economic recession began to be felt in Latin America. Growth began to slow as commodity prices and the demand for exports and services from the region declined. Several nations also...

Comparing Global Influence: China’s and U.S. Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Trade, and Investment in the Developing World

This report compares the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) and U.S. projections of global influence, with an emphasis on non-coercive means or “soft power,” and suggests ways to think about U.S. foreign policy options in light of China’s emergence. Part One discusses U.S. foreign policy interests, China’s rising influence, and its implications for the United States. Part Two compares the global public images of the two countries and describes PRC and U.S. uses of soft power tools, such as public diplomacy, state diplomacy, and foreign assistance. It also examines other forms of soft power...

Paraguay: Background and U.S. Relations

The demise of the long-ruling Stroessner military dictatorship in 1989 initiated a political transition in Paraguay that has been difficult at times. Current President Nicanor Duarte Frutos has implemented some reforms that have addressed corruption and contributed to economic growth. Yet, due in large part to the country’s authoritarian past, Paraguay’s state institutions remain weak while corruption remains ingrained in the political culture, impeding democratic consolidation and economic development.

In Paraguay’s April 20, 2008, presidential election, former Roman Catholic bishop...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2008 Appropriations

FY2008 appropriations for Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) agencies were originally proposed in H.R. 2829. The bill included funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 20 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On June 28, 2007, the House approved $43.8 billion for H.R. 2829, a...

Trafficking in Persons: U.S. Policy and Issues for Congress

Transportation, the Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, the Executive Office of the President, and Independent Agencies (TTHUD): FY2007 Appropriations

The Bush Administration requested $138.5 billion (after scorekeeping adjustments) for these agencies for FY2007, an increase of $2.3 billion over the $136.2 billion Congress provided in the agencies’ FY2006 appropriations act (this FY2006 figure reflects a 1.0% across-the-board rescission that was included in the FY2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, P.L. 109-148). The total FY2006 funding (after scorekeeping adjustments) for the agencies in this bill was $146.3 billion, due to emergency supplemental funding provided to deal with the effects of the Gulf Coast hurricanes of...

Gangs in Central America

Latin America and the Caribbean: Issues for the 109th Congress

Over the past two decades, the Latin America and Caribbean region has made enormous strides in terms of political and economic development. In 2006, elections for head of government were held in 12 countries in the region, including the close election in Mexico in July, the re-election of presidents in Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, and Venezuela, and the election of former heads of government in Costa Rica, Haiti, Nicaragua, Peru, and St. Lucia. Although the region overall experienced an economic setback in 2002-2003, it has rebounded since 2004. Nevertheless, several nations faced...

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade: Key Issues for the 110th Congress

The 110th Congress will face a number of pressing foreign affairs, defense, and trade issues in the opening days of its tenure. This report identifies major issues most likely to be on the legislative agenda, discusses critical policy choices at stake, and summarizes some of the major alternatives that Congress may consider. The report lists Congressional Research Service reports that address these issues, and it identifies key analysts and their areas of responsibility.

A major issue confronting the new Congress is what to do in Iraq. The Baker/Hamilton-led Iraq Study Group recommended...

Honduras: Political and Economic Situation and U.S. Relations

This report discusses the relationship of United States with Honduras, characterized by significant foreign assistance, an important trade partnership, a U.S. military presence in the country, and cooperation on a range of transnational issues.

Transportation, the Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, the Executive Office of the President, and Independent Agencies: FY2006 Appropriations

At the beginning of the 109th Congress, both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations reorganized their subcommittee structure, affecting the coverage of the FY2006 appropriations bills. As a result, the appropriations subcommittees that previously oversaw the Departments of Transportation and the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, and Independent Agencies now also oversee the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, and (in the case of the House, but not the Senate) the District of Columbia.

The Bush Administration requested $126.1 billion for...

Organization of American States: A Primer

This report provides a background on the Organization of American States (OAS), which is an international organization based in Washington, D.C., comprised of 35 Western Hemisphere states. The OAS works to promote democracy, protect human rights, preserve security, expand trade, and address cross-cutting issues of hemispheric concern.

Central America and the Dominican Republic in the Context of the Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) with the United States

This report explains the conditions in five countries in Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) and one country in the Caribbean (Dominican Republic) that will be partners with the United States in the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) signed in August 2004. All of the signatory countries except Costa Rica have approved the pact. The agreement will enter into force for the approving countries on an agreed date, tentatively January 1, 2006. In U.S. approval action, the House and Senate passed the...

Drug Certification/Designation Procedures for Illicit Narcotics Producing and Transit Countries

This report summarizes the congressionally-mandated presidential designation procedures on major illicit narcotics producing and transit countries in Section 706 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2003 ( H.R. 1646 / P.L. 107-228 ) enacted in September 2002. To put the new procedures in perspective, the report also provides information on the past procedures, the congressional modifications, and recent presidential designations under the revised procedures. This report will not be updated. From the mid-1980s to 2001, Congress required the President to certify in early March...

Cuba After Fidel Castro: Issues for U.S. Policy

This report first examines various transition scenarios for Cuba after Fidel Castro. It then examines implications of the transition for U.S. policy, including U.S. government preparation and current legislative conditions for dealing with a new government.

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade: Key Issues for the 109th Congress

The 109th Congress will likely address a number of pressing foreign affairs, defense and trade issues. This report identifies the issues most likely to be taken up in the first session, and provides information and analysis to support Congress in shaping U.S. policy on these key issues. The report also provides lists of selected CRS products that provide more detailed analysis. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress has increasingly been confronted with issues relating to the war on terrorism and homeland security. Congress will likely be particularly interested in...

Appropriations for FY2005: Transportation, Treasury, and Independent Agencies

The FY2005 Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies appropriations bill was passed as Division H of P.L. 108-447 , an omnibus appropriations bill, and was signed into law on December 8, 2004. The bill provides $90.6 billion for Transportation, Treasury, and Independent Agencies. However, the bill also includes an across-the-board rescission of 0.80%, which will reduce the Transportation, Treasury, and Independent Agencies funding by approximately $725 million. This will make the final figure $89.9 billion, slightly less than FY2004’s $90.3 billion but more than...

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2004 and FY2005: State Department and Foreign Assistance

The foreign relations authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State (within the Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agency appropriation) and foreign policy/foreign aid activities (within the foreign operations appropriation). Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. Foreign assistance authorization measures (such as authorization for the U.S. Agency for International Development, economic and military assistance to...

Appropriations for FY2004: Transportation, Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, General Government, and Related Agencies

For FY2004 Congress began providing, in a single bill, appropriations for the Departments of Transportation and the Treasury, the United States Postal Service, the Executive Office of the President, and Related Agencies, as well as General Government provisions. On January 23, 2004, President Bush signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004 ( H.R. 2673 ; P.L. 108-199 ), which included the conference version of the FY2004 Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill. On September 9, 2003, the House passed H.R. 2989 , the FY2004 Transportation, Treasury and...

Andean Regional Initiative (ARI): FY2003 Supplemental and FY2004 Assistance for Colombia and Neighbors

In 2003, Congress considered President Bush's requests for FY2004 and FY2003 supplemental assistance for Colombia and six regional neighbors in a continuation of the Andean Regional Initiative (ARI) launched in 2001. ARI was proposed as an expansion of support for Plan Colombia, under the Clinton Administration, with more funding for social and economic development programs for Colombia and its neighbors, who are affected by Colombia's struggle against guerrillas and drug traffickers. From FY2000 through FY2003, Colombia and other ARI recipients have received more than $3 billion in U.S....

Andean Regional Initiative (ARI): FY2002 Supplemental and FY2003 Assistance for Colombia and Neighbors

In 2002 and continuing into 2003, Congress considered President Bush's requests for FY2002 supplemental and FY2003 assistance for Colombia and six regional neighbors in a continuation of the Andean Regional Initiative launched in 2001. On February 4, 2002, President Bush submitted a FY2003 budget request that would provide $979.8 million for the Andean Regional Initiative (ARI), with $731 million in counternarcotics assistance under the Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI). This request included $537 million in ARI funding for Colombia, with $439 million in ACI funding and $98 million in...

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade: Key Issues for the 108th Congress

The 108th Congress will be faced early on with a number of pressing foreign affairs, defense, and trade issues. This report provides background information on the issues most likely to be taken up in the first session, analyzes the congressional role in shaping U.S. policy on these key issues, and lists CRS products that provide more detailed discussion and analysis. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon dramatically altered the U.S. political environment, pushing issues of war and homeland security to the top of the policy agenda. Of particular concern to...

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2003: An Overview

Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. The authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State (within the Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agency appropriation) and foreign policy/foreign aid activities (within the foreign operations appropriation). While Congress intended the legislation would serve as authorization for both FY2002 and FY2003, the delay in getting it through Congress led to a waiver of the authorization...

Drug Certification Requirements and Congressional Modifications in 2001-2002

This report provides a brief summary of the existing drug certification requirements for drug producing and drug-transit countries, background on the experience, criticisms, and reform efforts under these provisions; a summary of early congressional options and proposals advanced in 2001, with possible advantages and disadvantages; a summary of later initiatives with legislative activity; and (5) a tracking of legislative action on the major initiatives.

Appropriations for FY2002: Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs

The annual Foreign Operations appropriations bill is the primary legislative vehicle through which Congress reviews the U.S. foreign aid budget and influences executive branch foreign policy making generally. It contains the largest share -- over two-thirds -- of total U.S. international affairs spending. President Bush requested $15.167 billion for FY2002 Foreign Operations, an amount 1.5% higher than enacted FY2001 appropriations. By comparison, foreign policy resources proposed for State Department, U.N. contributions, and other non-foreign aid activities would increase by 13.2% from...

Nicaragua: Country Brief

Once plagued by dictatorial rule, civil war, and economic chaos, since 1990 Nicaragua has developed democratic institutions and a framework for economic development. Progress has been made in social and economic reforms. Nonetheless, significant challenges remain: Nicaragua is still very poor, and its institutions are weak. Elections for the presidency and National Assembly will be held on November 4, 2001. Major candidates include Sandinista leader and former President Daniel Ortega, and former Vice President Enrique Bolanos of the ruling Liberal Constitutional party. U.S. policy toward...

Summit of the Americas III, Quebec City, Canada, April 20-22, 2001: Background, Objectives, and Results

Summit of the Americas III was held in Quebec City, Canada, on April 20-22, 2001, and was attended by 34 democratically elected Presidents and Prime Ministers from the Western Hemisphere, including President George W. Bush. It was President Bush's first international summit, and his first major opportunity to reemphasize the priority his administration places on the Western Hemisphere, given that he visited Mexico in mid-February, spoke at the Organization of American States (OAS) in mid-April, and met with seven hemispheric leaders before he attended the Summit in Canada. The Quebec...

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Policy: Key Issues in the 107th Congress

Among the 107th Congress' first orders of business will be dealing with the initiatives--both domestic and foreign policy--proposed by President Bush throughout his presidential campaign. The 2000 congressional campaigns suggested that the agenda of the 107th Congress will be largely domestic: Social Security, health care, education, taxes, and military pay were prominent in campaigns across America and on post-election news programs. Indeed, many issues discussed in this report will be affected by the resolution of a contentious battle for the presidency. In the Congress, the 50-50...

Peruvian Elections in 2000: Congressional Concerns and Policy Approaches

In a vote that observers said did not meet minimum conditions for a free and fair election, President Alberto Fujimori of Peru won a third term on May 28. The United States urged sanctions, but the OAS sent a high-level mission to press Peru for democratic reforms instead. Corruption scandals and lessened support led Fujimori to agree to new elections in April 2001 and then, on November 20, to resign. The 106th Congress called for the review and modification of U.S. relations with Peru if elections were not judged free and fair by international observers, and then for the withholding...

Mexico's Presidential, Legislative, and Local Elections of July 2, 2000

Mexico held historic elections on July 2, 2000, that demonstrated Mexico's evolution toward fully democratic government since an opposition president was elected for the first time in 71 years. Coming after a series of electoral reforms in the 1990s, the elections were supervised by independent and widely respected Mexican electoral authorities, and were closely watched by party poll watchers, and domestic and international observers. Although polls suggested a close presidential race, final results showed Vicente Fox of the conservative Alliance for Change (PAN and PVEM)...

Latin America: Overview of Legislative Issues for Congress in 2000

In the second session of the 106th Congress, policymakers are facing an assortment of issues in U.S.-Latin American relations, ranging from such broad topics as trade policy and anti-drug policy to country-specific issues involving Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, and Mexico. In the trade arena, Congress has completed action on an initiative begun last year to provide preferential tariff treatment for countries of the Caribbean and Central America because of concerns that these countries are losing U.S. trade and investment opportunities to Mexico because of NAFTA. With regard to anti-drug policy,...

Mexico's Counter-Narcotics Efforts Under Zedillo, December 1994 to March 2000

This report provides information on Mexico's counter-narcotics efforts under President Ernesto Zedillo, with emphasis on the last year, as the Congress is considering President Clinton's decision, on March 1, 2000, to certify that Mexico was fully cooperative in drug control efforts. The report focuses on (1) Mexico's share of illicit drug traffic to the United States, (2) Mexico's efforts to control drug trafficking (seizures, arrests, eradication), and (3) Mexico's cooperation with the United States in counter-narcotics efforts. Share of Traffic. Mexico continued to be the transit...

Cuba-U.S. Relations: Chronology of Key Events 1959-1999

This chronology outlines major events in U.S.-Cuban relations from Fidel Castro's rise to power in 1959 through 1999. The chronology provides more detailed information on events since 1994, including U.S. legislative action and congressional hearings and significant economic and political events in Cuba. In the 1960s, U.S.-Cuban relations deteriorated quickly as the Castro government espoused Communism and aligned itself with the Soviet Union. After Cuba began expropriating U.S. property in 1960, the United States began imposing economic sanctions. In 1961, diplomatic relations...

Central America: Reconstruction After Hurricane Mitch

On February 16, the Administration transmitted an emergency supplemental request for $955.5 million to provide reconstruction assistance to the Central American countries devastated last Fall by Hurricane Mitch. The supplemental did not include any of the trade expansion provisions which the Administration has proposed previously, and which the Central American countries include as their highest priority. The Senate supplemental appropriations bill ( S. 544 ) passed the Senate on March 23 and the House bill ( H.R. 1141 ) passed the House on March 24. The final legislation, P.L 106-31,...

Drug Certification of Mexico in 1999: Arguments For and Against Congressional Resolutions of Disapproval

This report presents arguments for and against congressional resolutions to disapprove President Clinton's February 26, 1999 certification of Mexico as a fully cooperative country in efforts to control illicit narcotics. (1) These resolutions (H.J.Res. 35 Bachus, and H.J.Res. 43 Mica and Gilman) would disapprove the President's certification, but would permit him to avoid withholding of assistance to Mexico if he determined that vital national interests required such assistance. While the drug certification legislation requires that Congress act within 30 calendar days after...

Mexico and Drug Certification in 1999: Consequences of Decertification

President Clinton certified, on February 26, 1999, that Mexico was fully cooperative in counter- narcotics efforts with the United States, setting in motion a 30-calendar-day period in which the Congress may review the President's decision. In recent years, congressional resolutions were advanced but not enacted to disapprove the President's certifications after President Clinton certified Mexico as a fully cooperative country. This report summarizes the drug certification procedures and indicates the types of U.S. assistance that would be suspended or exempted if Mexico were to...

Foreign and Defense Policy: Key Issues in the 106th Congress

When the 106th Congress comes to work in January, its first order of business will be to deal with the impeachment of the President of the United States. The 1998 congressional campaigns and elections suggested that the agenda of the 106th Congress also will be largely domestic in its focus: Social Security, health care, and education were the order of the day in campaigns across America and on post-election news programs. Indeed, of the issues discussed in this report, only increased defense spending to address military readiness and retention of trained military personnel has been...

Summit of the Americas II, April 18-19, 1998: Background, Objectives, and Expectations

President William Clinton will attend Summit of the Americas II in Santiago, Chile, on April 18-19, 1998, with 34 democratic Presidents and Prime Ministers from Latin American and Caribbean countries expected to attend. This is a follow up to Summit of the Americas I hosted by President Clinton in Miami in December 1994. The 1994 Miami Summit created a Plan of Action with 23 initiatives in four major areas. Under the leadership of various countries and organizations, these initiatives have been advanced, and major agreements have been concluded and are in the process of being implemented....

Drug Certification of Mexico in 1998: Arguments For and Against Congressional Resolutions of Disapproval

This report presents arguments for and against congressional resolutions which have been introduced to disapprove President Clinton's February 26, 1998 certification of Mexico as a fully cooperative country in efforts to control illicit narcotics. (1) These resolutions, which must be approved within 30 calendar days of the President's certification, would disapprove the President's certification and require the withholding of assistance and support from Mexico ( S.J.Res. 42 ), or they would disapprove the President's certification, but would permit him to avoid withholding of assistance...

Nicaragua: Changes Under the Chamorro Government and U.S. Concerns

National reconciliation was the primary goal of President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro's administration from 1990-1996. Yet many critics, both in Nicaragua and in the U.S. Congress, saw her commitment to keeping the peace within the Nicaraguan national family as slowing the pace of political, institutional, and economic reform in the early years of her seven-year term. During the last two years, however, Nicaragua began to develop the institutions that contribute to a pluralist system. Primary U.S. concerns have been the development of democracy and of the economy, and the settlement of...

Nicaragua's 1996 Elections and Results

The acrimony surrounding Nicaragua's recent elections has raised new concerns for political conciliation and stability there. Nicaraguans voted for president, the legislature, and other offices on Sunday, October 20, 1996. It was more than a month later, however, before rightist Arnoldo Aleman was officially declared the winner of the presidential race. Rightist Aleman, mayor of Managua from 1990-1995, defeated leftist Daniel Ortega, head of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and president from 1985-1991, and 21 other candidates by a wide margin. After a highly polarized race,...

Cuba: U.S. Economic Sanctions Through 1996

This report first provides an overview of U.S.- Cuba relations and U.S. policy toward Cuba. It then examines the history and legislative and executive authorities of the various components of U.S. sanctions against Cuba, including aid, trade, and other restrictions through 1996. U.S.-Cuba relations deteriorated sharply in the early 1960s when Fidel Castro began to build a repressive communist dictatorship and moved his country toward close relations with the Soviet Union. Since then, U.S. policy has consisted largely of isolating Cuba through a comprehensive economic embargo. The often...

Radio and Television Broadcasting to Cuba: Background and Issues Through 1994

Radio Marti first began broadcasting to Cuba in 1985 while TV Marti began broadcasting in 1990. Both programs are within the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, United States Information Agency (USIA). Almost since the beginning, U.S. government broadcasting to Cuba has been controversial. Supporters say a source of news independent of the Cuban government is important, especially in the post-Cold War climate. They say there is less print and broadcast media available now to Cubans than ever before. Critics of U.S. government broadcasting in Cuba say it has too much Cuban- American focus, and...