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  • One Year Later: Obama and Latin America

    One year after taking office, President Obama has yet to usher in the new dawn in relations with Latin America he talked about during his campaign. It was a huge promise, given his predecessor’s visits to the region, free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, the newly created Millennium Challenge Account directing more effective aid to countries there, the Merida Initiative for fighting drugs in Mexico, and the continuing success of the Clinton-era Plan Colombia.

    Thus far, the Administration’s involvement with the Americas has been more reactive than proactive, dominated as it has been by a fuzzy strategic vision, unplanned events, obstructionists in Congress, and resource constraints.

    Early in the new Administration, the White House made it clear it would not push Congress to approve the trade agreements Bush signed with Colombia and Panama, thereby rebuffing advances from two traditional friends and weakening economic relations further.

    Obama’s softer approach toward anti-American regimes in the region did little to bring relief to the millions of Cubans still living under communist tyranny or to advance democracy and the rule of law in countries like Venezuela. By comparison, the Administration’s unexpectedly harsh approach to Hondurans who sought to protect their constitutional democracy when their President tried to conduct an illegal referendum was surprising. The Administration had hastily joined the likes of Hugo Chávez and Raul Castro demanding his reinstatement. And it was very slow to recognize the democratic and constitutional elections to replace Zelaya on November 29th.

    Equally confusing for those who’ve worked for human rights and freedoms in the region is the Administration’s ambivalence to inroads that Iran, China, and Russia are making there, leading pundits to once more proclaim the last rites for the Monroe Doctrine. Add to this the Administration’s lackluster approach to Mexico’s problems, including its 6 percent economic contraction and its increasingly brutal drug violence, and its no wonder many Americans are more jittery about our southern flank.

    The horrific earthquake in Haiti on January 12th ended Obama’s first year of engagement in Latin America on a somber note. The humanitarian response thus far by Americans and by the Administration demonstrates our capacity for compassion and action. But fixing Haiti will require more long-term commitment, and bold departures from the traditional forms of development assistance and governance that have failed that country so miserably.

    Regaining America’s historic position of leadership in the Americas will not be easy. The President must focus his strategy this next year on activities that not only address core U.S. interests, such as expanding trade, reducing corruption, and attracting investment to create jobs on both sides of our border. He must also focus on ways to help the people of Latin America strengthen their democratic institutions; and ways to achieve closer cooperation in our fight against international crime, drugs, and terrorism.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to One Year Later: Obama and Latin America

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    2. Pingback: One Year Later: Obama and Latin America | The Foundry … : PlanetTalk.net - Learn the truth , no more lies

    3. Zelda Zick, MN says:

      The President will not respond to the Castro Brother's or Red Hugo because he is on the same side they are. Thus our President is an enemy of our Republic.

      Last week Obumer signed an order which gives him the power to take the National Guard away from the States. Thus he is setting the stage for a coming crack down. Just like a Dictator of a South American Banana Republic!

    4. John Clancy, Wyandot says:

      The media failed the American people in presenting Senator Obama as a centrist, as one of us in our view of the fundamentals vis a vis our constitution, our love of freedom, our respect for human life, and our willingness to help other nations in their pursuit of freedom.

      We know now that President Obama's view is very unamerican. He tramples on our constitution, violates our freedoms, promotes abortions, and betrays our friends like Poland.

      It is appropriate today to point out the very marked differences between Martin Luther King's view of our great country and President Obama's. Surely we need to begin to organize now at the precinct level to make a change in 2010.

    5. Lynn Bryant DeSpain says:

      When our President endorses Chevez, the Man responsible for supplying Gasoline to Iran, what else needs to be said?

    6. Drew Page, IL says:

      Tune in to Hugo Chavez's latest evaluation of America's (and Mr. Obama's) aid to Haiti. I thought these guys were pals. I wonder if Mr. Obama is having second thoughts about his relationship with Mr. Chavez.

      Obama and his Haitian relief efforts are getting better treatment from Bill O'Reilly at Fox News than he is from Mr. Chavez, who seems to be a bit critical.

      By the way, Venezula's relief efforts in Haiti have so far amounted to a single plane load of supplies. One wonders how much relief has been sent to Haiti from the Casro brothers in Cuba (and Danny Glover).

    7. Bobbie Jay says:

      It's a cover, Drew!

      Sorry, but I have to repeat this. Obama stated "what we do defines us as a people." Listen closely, Mr. President, OUR EXISTENCE DEFINES US AS A PEOPLE, MR. PRESIDENT! What we DO DEFINES US AS AMERICANS!

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