As America became distracted by the war on terror after 9/11, the region sought other partners.
When a foreign mining company bought an entire mountain in Peru last year and secured a virtual monopoly on copper production in the country, it may have struck some as the likely act of an American corporation – extending Uncle Sam's grip in Latin America, the United States' traditional backyard.
How wrong, how '90s (or earlier still) such an assumption would be.
The multibillion-dollar purchase of Toromocho mountain by China's Chinalco corporation was yet another example of China's voracious appetite for resources. Yet the Chinese claim on Toromocho also symbolizes how, across Latin America, the US is no longer the only game in town.
As President Obama turns his attention to America's own hemisphere – he visited Mexico on his way to the Summit of the Americas this weekend in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago – he finds a region that within a decade has diversified its interests and adjusted interdependencies, moving away from a US dominance that dates back to the Spanish-American War.
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