President Obama's visit to Latin America (March 2011) is supposed to put U.S. relations with its southern neighbors on a different path, one that diverges from the top-down military and trade policies of his predecessors. But while all signs would seem to point toward a new day in U.S.-Latin America relations, a closer look at Obama's drug enforcement and security policies indicates that the more the U.S. stance toward Latin America changes, the more it stays the same.

Statements by several U.S. officials signal Washington's wish to replace the militarized Cold War framework that dominated U.S.-Latin relations with an equally militarized framework rooted in the so-called War on Drugs. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Obama Administration officials have taken to deploying terms like "narcoinsurgency" that fuse drug war adversaries with enemies in the war on terror.

Roberto Lovato looks at how the Administration's proposed drug enforcement and security policies in El Salvador — and across Latin America — represent an attempt by the U.S. to assert new influence through old means: militarization.

He will also examine how this militarization, coupled with El Salvador's culture of violence, has impacted women in El Salvador. New studies indicate that El Salvador now suffers the highest rate of femicide in the hemisphere. Bringing more guns into a culture that's already steeped in violence is likely to worsen the crisis.

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Roberto Lovato is a writer with New America Media and a frequent contributor to The Nation Magazine. He's also written for the Los Angeles Times, Salon, Der Spiegel,...