Students and Woodlands’ residents enjoyed another World Affairs Council event, this one highlighting the leadership changes in Latin America. This event, featuring Ambassador Michael McKinley, proved entertaining and educational, hallmarks of WAC events.
McKinley is uniquely qualified to discuss Latin America. In addition to being born in Venezuela and having a PhD in international affairs, McKinley also served as Ambassador to Peru, Brazil, and Columbia (not to mention Afghanistan).
Following introductions by Sandija Bayot and Baylee Cammack from Caney Creek High School, the forum was turned over to the excellent moderator Ronan O’Malley.
McKinley discussed the unique challenges of Latin America, including periods of instability, colonial rule, poverty and inequality. This, he noted, had been particularly acute in Peru when Castillo was in power: In a sixteen-month period, Castillo’s cabinet went through 80 members, an unprecedented number. Moreover, Castillo attempted to suspend Congress.
While such episodes have occurred throughout Latin America’s history, much progress has been made, and McKinley notes that while the largest six Latin American countries now have left-leaning governments, these governments fall within normal and accepted economic and governing strategies: they aren’t socialist or Communist governments.
Moreover, in most of the countries, much progress has been made in institutionalizing democratic reforms, auguring well for the future.
McKinley noted that the United States needed to devote more attention to Latin America. While he noted that Ukraine and China are two paramount concerns right now, issues in these regions should not fully overshadow the importance and promise of Latin America. Remarkably, he noted that while the United States had sent 68 billion dollars to Ukraine last year, only 2 billion had been sent to all of Latin America. Moreover, the US accepts more than 500,000 students from China, India, and Korea, but we accept less than 100,000 students from all of Latin America. With attention, effort, and resources, these disparities can be addressed, benefiting both the United States and Latin America.
Gratifyingly, there were a large number of students on hand to hear Ambassador McKinley’s response.
Indeed, overall, there were more than 70 people who came out to hear the Ambassador speak, and it’s safe to say that everyone came away more informed. Ambassador McKinley spoke with guests following the event…
…and we also had the chance to peruse the wonderful Glade Art Gallery, which is constantly rotating its art work, giving us the chance to find new favorites–which we did!
Once again, we’d like to thank the World Affairs Council for offering these wonderful learning opportunities to students from SHSU and beyond.