2008 in Review

Latin America and the Caribbean

Here is our list of the most significant news stories in 2008 relating to U.S. policy and security in Latin America.

March: Colombia bombs a Farc encampment in Ecuador, killing Raul Reyes, one of the rebel group's leaders. The attack leads Ecuador to cut off diplomatic relations with Colombia, which have yet to be restored, while Venezuela threatens to send troops to the border.

April: Attempts to pass the United States-Colombia Free Trade Agreement are thwarted when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leads an effort to delay the vote, citing human rights violations against union leaders as a major concern. This concern was reiterated by President-elect Barack Obama in one of the presidential debates leading up to the elections.

June: The U.S. Congress approves $400 million toward the Merida Initiative, a proposed $1.3 billion aid package aimed at helping Mexico and Central America fight the drug war.

July: Colombia's Operación Jaque results in the rescue of 15 Farc hostages, including prominent hostages Ingrid Betancourt and the three American contractors Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes.

July: The Ecuadorian government formally tells the United States that it will not renew the United States' agreement to use the Manta air force base when it expires in 2009.

September: Bolivian President Evo Morales expels U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Venezuela also expels U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy. The Bush administration's response includes de-certifying Bolivia as an anti-drug partner and not renewing Bolivia's trade preferences under ATPDEA (Andean Trade Preferences and Drug Enforcement Act).

November: Barack Obama's victory leads to calls and hopes for a new era of relations between Latin America and the United States by many Latin American governments.