The democratization of South America found a symbol in the OAS' adoption of Resolution 1080 in 1991, which required the Secretary General to convene the Permanent Councilwithin ten days of a coup d'état in any member country. However, at the same time, Washington started to aggressively pursue the "War on Drugs", which included the invasion of Panama in 1989 to overthrow Manuel Noriega, who had been a long-time ally of the US and had even worked for the CIA before his reign as leader of the country. The "War on Drugs" was later expanded through Plan Colombia in the late 1990s and the Mérida Initiative in Mexico and Central America.
Panama: In May 1989, during the Panamanian national elections, an alliance of parties opposed to the Noriega dictatorship counted results from the country's election precincts, before they were sent to the district centers. Their tally showed their candidate, Guillermo Endara, defeating Carlos Duque, candidate of a pro-Noriega coalition, by nearly 3–1. Endara was beaten up by Noriega supporters the next day in his motorcade. Noriega declared the election null and maintained power by force, making him unpopular among Panamanians. Noriega's government insisted that it had won the presidential election and that irregularities had been on the part of U.S.-backed candidates from opposition parties. Bush called on Noriega to honor the will of the Panamanian people. The United States reinforced its Canal Zone garrison, and increased the tempo of training and other activities intended to put pressure on Noriega.
Noriega had sided with the U.S. rather than the USSR in Central America, notably in sabotaging the forces of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, and the revolutionaries of the FMLNgroup in El Salvador. Noriega received upwards of $100,000 per year from the 1960s until the 1980s, when his salary was increased to $200,000 per year. Although he worked with the Drug Enforcement Administration to restrict illegal drug shipments, he was known to simultaneously accept significant financial support from drug dealers, because he facilitated the laundering of drug money, and through Noriega, they received protection from DEA investigations due to his special relationship with the CIA.
Venezuela: In the early 1990s the Venezuelan government's economic strength and political legitimacy was declining, with two coup attempts in 1992 and the impeachment for corruption of President Carlos Andrés Pérez. The result was a turn against the traditional Punto Fijo parties (Democratic Action and COPEI) in the 1993 elections: Rafael Caldera's victory in 1993 was the first time in Venezuela's democratic history that a President had been elected without the support of either of the two major parties. It was symptomatic that Caldera's election platform included pardoning those who had participated in the coup attempts, and he did so in 1994. Hugo Chávez, imprisoned for his role in the February 1992 coup attempt, was among those released.By 1998, the economic crisis had grown even worse. Per capitaGDP was at the same level as 1963, down a third from its 1978 peak; the purchasing power of the average salary was a third of its 1978 level.
In April 2002, 18 people died in an antigovernment protest in Venezuela, which resulted in Chavez’ removal from power while an interim government led.After returning to power, Chávez claimed that a plane with U.S. registration numbers had visited and been berthed at Venezuela's Orchila Island airbase, where Chávez had been held captive.On May 14, 2002, Chávez alleged that he had definitive proof of U.S. military involvement in April's coup. He claimed that during the coup, Venezuelan radar images had indicated the presence of U.S. military naval vessels and aircraft in Venezuelan waters and airspace. The Guardian published a claim by Wayne Madsen– a writer (at the time) for left-wing publications and a former Navy analyst and critic of the George W. Bush administration– alleging U.S. Navy involvement. U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, D-CT, requested an investigation of concerns that Washington appeared to condone the removal of Mr Chavez, which found that "U.S. officials acted appropriately and did nothing to encourage an April coup against Venezuela's president" nor did they provide any naval logistical support.CIA documents indicate that the Bush administration knew about a plot weeks before the April 2002 military coup. They cite a document dated April 6, 2002, which says: "dissident military factions...are stepping up efforts to organize a coup against President Chavez, possibly as early as this month. According to William Brownfield, ambassador to Venezuela, the U.S. embassy in Venezuela warned Chávez about a coup plot in April 2002. Further, the United States Department of State and the investigation by the Office of the Inspector General found no evidence that "U.S. assistance.
Brazil: General elections were held in Brazil on 6 October 2002, with a second round on 27 October. After three failed attempts, Workers' Party leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva succeeded in a presidential election. Nevertheless, he did not manage to obtain the majority of valid votes in the first round; this led the presidential election to a second round, which Lula won with 52.7 million votes (61.3% of the total), becoming at the time the second most voted-for president in the world after Ronald Reagan in the 1984 United States presidential election. The changes in the political orientation of PT (from a left-wing socialist to a centre-left social-democratic party) after Lula was elected President were well received by many in the population, but, as a historically more radical party, PT has experienced a series of internal struggles with members who have refused to embrace the new political positions of the party. These struggles have fueled public debates, the worst of which had its climax in December 2003, when four dissident legislators were expelled from the party for voting against the Social Insurance Reform. Among these members were congressman João Batista Oliveira de Araujo (known as Babá), and senator Heloísa Helena, who formed the Partido Socialismo e Liberdade (PSOL) in June 2004 and ran for President in 2006, becoming, at the time, the woman who had garnered the most votes in Brazilian history. In another move, 112 members of the radical-wing of the party announced they were abandoning PT in the World Social Forum, in Porto Alegre, on 30 January 2005. They also published a manifesto entitled Manifesto of the Rupture that states that PT "is no longer an instrument of social transformation, but only an instrument of the status quo", continuing with references to the International Monetary Fund and other economic and social issues. In April 2009, just three months after he took office, U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas. There, he told Latin America’s leaders that he wanted to begin “a new chapter of engagement” and an “equal partnership . . . based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values.” Most dramatically, he pledged to seek “a new beginning with Cuba,” which had not enjoyed diplomatic relations with the United States for five decades.
From 2009 to 2014, the record of the Obama administration toward Latin America has contradicted the tone of his remarks at the Trinidad meeting. In that span, several incidents have disappointed the leaders of most Latin American countries, including on various occasions those governments generally friendly to the US. An early example was the response of the US to the military coup in June 2009 against the democratically-elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya. Subsequent to the coup, the Obama administration issued a tepid statement that failed to condemn the ouster of that country’s president by military force1. The Obama administration’s reaction stood in contrast with most of the international community, including the Organization of American States and the United Nations. Nonetheless, US aid to Honduras went on unabated via the Millennium Challenge Corporation (an institution set up by President George W. Bush), despite the fact that human rights organizations found a host of violations carried out by the post-coup Honduran military regime. Although the Obama administration later backtracked somewhat in the face of overwhelming criticism from both European allies and Latin American leaders regarding the forcible removal from office, the damage was done; the flow of assistance to Honduras continued.