Latin America, economic crisis, corruption, and, now, political upheaval, have brought an end to the foreign policy adventurism of two nations that once seemed poised to lead a new era: Brazil and Venezuela. Both of their economies are in a tailspin. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment proceedings over her alleged lack of oversight of the budget process. And with the resounding defeat of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s governing party in the Dec. 6 legislative elections, these countries’ once-proud ambitions of only a decade ago now seem delusional.
In the early years of the 21st century, Venezuela and Brazil sought to shake off centuries of U.S. dominance. Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva stood at the vanguard of a younger generation of South American heads of state. To the considerable anxiety of officials in Washington, they seemed to herald a new, turbulent phase for the region’s relations with the United States.