When it comes to influencing world affairs, the vast majority of students and policymakers have consistently written off the nations of LAC. As this volume has shown, since the dawn of independence Latin American nations have remained heavily dependent on commodity and primary goods exports, thus remaining essentially at the mercy of larger world powers. LAC nations have never been weighty enough economically to impact

the international economic system, strong enough to play an important role in world conflicts, nor disruptive enough to command the world’s attention. Until recently, the majority have remained poor, underdeveloped, fragmented, prone to dictatorial or authoritarian regimes, and essentially subordinate to the dominant power of the U.S. Yet by the second decade of the twenty-first century, Latin America

itself, and its role in and importance to the international system, has changed dramatically for the better. Some countries in Latin America today have learned to exploit their strengths and project their influence in the international environment, making them significantly more important (in both global economic and security terms) than at any time in the region’s independent history. Thanks mostly to their ability to take advantage of the latest cycle of

increase in demand for commodities worldwide, some of the biggest (Mexico, Brazil) and fastest-growing (Chile, Colombia, Peru) economies in Latin America today are increasingly able to exercise greater influence in international affairs, especially when they do so cooperatively. Particularly during the commodities “super-cycle” between 2002 and

2009, Latin American countries endowed with sought-after exports enjoyed the benefits of an increase in demand for their minerals and foodstuffs. More importantly, even after the “super-cycle” ran out of steam, most countries

in Latin America were still in a better position because they had saved and invested more of their windfall than in the past.1