Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I see a glaring weakness in Pres. Obama's foreign policy: Latin America.

True, Obama did attend the OAS meeting several months ago and personally met most of the Latin American leaders including Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia. But since then, Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton seem to have put policy toward Latin America on hold.

Consider what is now happening: Peru and Chile are in a serious contretemps based on Peruvian claims that Chile was spying on Peru. Hugo Chavez is threatening to wage war on Colombia and its conservative president Alvaro Uribe, principally because Chavez objects to Uribe permitting !,000 North Americans to occupy Colombian bases. And the whole world wants to see Cuba free from the shackles of the U.S. embargo, something Obama has inexplicably not done.

Obama needs to get involved, and fast. It seems the whole Latin American world greeted his election with delight and a sense that U.S. policy would be more receptive to Latin needs. In these months since, there has been a growing ominous sense that Obama plans to continue Bush's policy of neglect and condescension. The military agreement with Colombia has Latin leaders wondering who in the Obama administration was so blind to Latin sensitivities that they would not see or recognize the Latin fear and resistance to having U.S. soldiers stationed in any country in Latin America. And why has Obama not immediately lifted the useless Cuban embargo? There are no answers to these questions that do not reflect poorly on Obama.

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