Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama and Latin America: election post mortem

Barack Obama ran on a platform of change, and so in the coming weeks we'll see if there is any sign of change in U.S. policies toward Latin America. For example, appointments to key Latin America posts will be indicative. However, the president-elect has truly massive problems on his plate, and thus it is doubtful that Latin America will occupy much of his time (which, indeed, raises the importance of those appointees, because they will wield even more clout).

Once he takes office, I hope that he meets immediately with Mexican President Felipe Calderón. The Bush administration had slowly thawed relations after the disastrous decision to ice both Chile and Mexico for voting against use of force in Iraq in the UN, but we need more. I hope Obama shows commitment both to immigration reform and to addressing the drug-fuelled violence that is poisoning both sides of the border. Both issues require close coordination and as much trust as possible between the two governments.

There are, of course, many other challenges, and there is an opportunity for real change. Relations with Latin America have nowhere to go but up.


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