The regional penchant to turn to strong men or military juntas to resolve questions of instability made South America ripe for leftist reaction throughout the Cold War. Rising nationalism and the world-wide wave of anti-imperialist sentiment also characterized the relationship with the United States and the nations of South America. The Soviets sought to exploit any openings offered, and established close relations with nations like Argentina. The greatest potential realignment in the region was squashed by an allegedly CIA-instigated coup of Chile’s Salvador Allende.
Time: Mid War
South America offers the potential for some of the most lopsided scoring in the game. With only 4 battlegrounds, closely-linked, it is the easiest region to gain Control over. In particular, a great many USSR Mid War victories can be attributed to a De-Stalinization into South America that locks up the four battlegrounds early.
Even if you don’t gain control, the difference between a 2-2 battleground deadlock and a 3-1 Domination is 5VP. This is equal to a typical Europe Domination, and further suggests that along with Africa, South America is one of the key regions of the board.
The eventual trend of the continent is to tilt towards the United States. The USSR must rely on either De-Stalinization, coups, or neutral events in the Mid War, while the US has a plethora of events (including OAS Founded, one of the most irritating 1 Ops events in the game). Accordingly, it is important for a USSR that did manage to De-Stalinize into South America to lock up the region securely, so as to defend against an eventual US onslaught.
South America is also rife with potential for realignments, as it is the only region where every battleground can be subject to an easy realignment. Common scenarios include Chile/Uruguay realigning Argentina, Colombia/Brazil realigning Venezuela, Venezuela/Uruguay realigning Brazil, and Peru/Argentina realigning Chile.
The USSR has the easier job of getting into South America, but if and only if he draws De-Stalinization. If he does, then South America control should be easy; otherwise, the USSR’s only hope is to attack the US with coups and events.
The US has only one Early War option for South America, and that’s the AR7 play into Colombia (AR6 in this case, since this is the Early War). Personally, I’m not a fan of this move. As USSR, I’m totally happy to just coup Colombia and give up a battleground coup; usually, in the Early War, the US is not terribly interested in battleground coups anyway, and certainly not at the cost of letting the USSR into South America with a strong Colombia coup. On the other hand, if the USSR is already in South America thanks to De-Stalinization, then the AR7 play into Colombia is still unlikely to succeed but at least has little downside.
Many Mid War events directly or indirectly target South America. The USSR, however, has very few options, with its only events being:
- A good desperation way to get into South America if De-Stalinization has not come out.
- A nice way of responding to two threats at once, creating two threats at once, or responding to one and creating your own simultaneously.
The US has:
- Puppet Governments
- If played early enough, this serves as a psuedo-De-Stalinization, perfect if South America is still empty.
- Panama Canal Returned
- A straightforward way to get into Venezuela, very useful as an AR7 play or to get into an empty South America
- Nuclear Subs
- Although not as persuasive as in Africa, Nuclear Subs offers the US a rare opportunity at multiple battleground coups.
- OAS Founded
- A total pain for the USSR to deal with, and a good way to get into an empty South America (though make sure DEFCON is at 2, lest you get couped out immediately).
- Alliance for Progress
- The “US OPEC”. Usually, however, it’s not worth very much when it first comes out; better to let it stew and collect more points in the Late War.
- The Voice of America
- Extremely effective at eliminating the USSR from subregions of South America, especially as Venezuela and Brazil are both 2-stability countries.
In practice, the USSR will hope to draw these neutral events:
- Brush War
- ABM Treaty
- The Holy Trinity of Mid War neutral events, with each serving its own purpose: Brush War attacks isolated battlegrounds, without regard for overcontrol; Junta is a flexible card that allows you to either get access to a region, create realignment opportunities, or coup in the headline phase; and ABM Treaty is … well, it’s a 4Ops battleground coup! What more could you ask?
- Latin American Death Squads
- This is usually a non-factor, since it’s mainly useful on non-battlegrounds, and South America does not feature many non-battleground coups.
If the USSR did not draw De-Stalinization, and did not draw the neutral events to contest South America, then coups are their only real chance to contest the continent, and absent extraordinary luck they are probably going to break even at best on the region.
In the Mid War, the region can change hands surprisingly quickly. Realignments are a key aspect to controlling South America: a US player that controls Colombia/Venezuela/Brazil/Uruguay, with no Soviet influence in any of those four countries, will be very difficult to knock out.
In general, Venezuela tends to be the most contested country, for two reasons: it scores on OPEC, and Colombia is somewhat difficult to hold onto long enough to realign Venezuela.
South America is a region where consecutive plays are critical: taking over a battleground often involves two steps, and so it’s a one of the most tense regions on the board, as you and your opponent jockey in attempts to set up a critical realign. This is why Junta and Che are such strong events: Junta lets you prepare for and realign in a single Action Round, and Che allows the USSR to do two things at once, be it respond to a threat or create one of their own.
In the Late War, the USSR gets a little help in the way of events, and the US must rely on their continued Mid War events:
- The Iron Lady
- In theory a US event, but in practice a USSR event. The loss of Socialist Governments hurts a little, but being able to flip Argentina is more than worth it. It should go without saying that the UK effect is worthless.
- Latin American Debt Crisis
- As US, I usually prefer to just let this trigger and not discard. As USSR, it is a good way of pressuring the US by either making them give up a high Ops card or dramatically altering the situation in the region.