What about me?
Latin America better keep their expectation in check after the election.
Now that President Barack Obama ended up victorious in the general election, is fair to ask how much will Latin America have anything to cheer about this result?
Not since JFK’s Alliance for Progress has a U.S. government given any serious effort to expand its influence by more than bullets or cash. Maybe it is the proximity to the US, but the region was first taken for granted and now seems to be completely forgotten when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.
During the last decade the door has been left opened by the U.S. for other powers to try to exert their influence in the region and it has been a real feast. China and Russia have wasted no time lending a helping hand to oil rich Venezuela (which hardly needs it), thus securing influence and a steady supply of oil. China also has invested vast capitals in other countries in the region and has overtaken the U.S. as Brazil’s main commercial partner. Europe has been very aggressive in a completely different way than the eastern giants with large private capital investments in banking, services, and infrastructure.
Some local players have also stepped up to the plate, with mixed results. Brazil has gained formidable influence in the region with its unparalleled model for success. Meanwhile, Venezuela has gained – or some would say purchased - numerous allies like Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador all while providing the Castro Brothers’ regime with much needed cash in exchange for ideological credibility and logistic support for Chávez.
It is puzzling that the U.S. has been sitting idle while all these changes have been taking place in a region that they used to regard as their backyard. During the campaign neither candidates really laid out a plan for the Latin America at all. Mr. Romney did mention the region as a commercial partner in the third debate and did incorporate a line or two in his stump speech with no specifics whatsoever to write home about. The President has been completely silent on the issue.
Unless there is a substantive change in the U.S. foreign policy towards the region, Latin America better not hold its breath. That is, of course, unless the region has developed some sort of penchant for blue face. For the Mr. Obama though, it would be wise to take a second look at all of our southern neighbors.
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