Source - Economist, Nov 03, 2018: "Latin lessons"
China, not the United States is the dominant economic power in South America.
From the article: "China is the region’s second-largest trade partner after America, and the number one trade partner for Brazil, Chile and Peru, notably buying soybeans, iron ore, oil, copper and meat. Its loans are often at high interest rates and are tied to contracts for Chinese firms. They fund both useful projects and vanity ones for local despots." China's loans are based primarily on ROI not ideology.
"China stands out for its willingness to invest in risky or corrupt places with few alternative sources of capital or of cheap, robust technology. Its approach might be called sub-prime globalization. At best, sub-prime lenders are non-judgmental sources of second chances. At worst, they are see-no-evil profiteers, and vulnerable to backlashes. China is a bit of both."
"China’s restraint, tolerating Bolsonarian bluster while ignoring Venezuelan sycophancy, does not signal impotence. Its clout has grown astonishingly, notably in the region’s south. Five years ago, for South Americans, the leading outside power was the United States, says Argentina’s ambassador to Beijing, Diego Ramiro Guelar. “Today it is China. Not as a projection into the future. Now.”