Two former diplomats have an article in the Miami Herald, arguing that the United States needs to punish Latin America more. For example, we need to punish Bolivia for kicking out the DEA and the ambassador: "the Obama administration has shown mostly patience, offering meager assistance to those seeking democratic change." I was unaware that expelling U.S. officials was undemocratic. That Evo Morales is democratically elected also goes unmentioned. Patience, meanwhile, is apparently a vice.
This is the Bush years doing their best to bubble back up. It's amazing, really, because that era was tremendously unproductive and damaging to U.S. interests.
But we do have aid programs and preferential trade agreements in place and we can suspend or alter many of them. We also could work to create a hemispheric free-trade zone for those countries that subscribe to and practice good governance.
And we could speak out, unabashedly, from the White House and State Department, about our belief in basic liberties, human rights, and democracy. If that makes us unpopular, or if it leads to the bankrupt charges of Yankee imperialism or interventionism, so be it.
Sheez, people. They rail against Ecuador and Bolivia but they've long been out of the Andean Trade Preference Act. Nicaragua is part of CAFTA but there is no simple mechanism for targeting one country within it for punishment, even if you thought it would be a productive move. As for good governance, what about Mexico? Its governance is worse than Bolivia's. As for the FTAA, remember how that worked out. But even if you really like FTAs, there are major initiatives going on.
As for "speaking out," Obama does it all the time. He even imposed sanctions on officials in Venezuela. That's pretty "unabashed."
In sum, their arguments consist mostly of empty whining. U.S.-Latin American relations are stronger than they've been for a long time. Incumbents are getting nailed in Latin America because democracy--while imperfect--is working. The last thing we need is a return to the Bush years.