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US no longer towers over Latin America

As America became distracted by the war on terror after 9/11, the region sought other partners.

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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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