Thursday, 28 February 2008

What Would Obama do for Latin America?

Unfortunately I've been so caught up in the US primary season of late, that my daily browsing of Latin American news topics online has been undone by reading countless Obama vs. Clinton news stories. Hopefully the good people of Texas and Ohio will now put us out our misery and make sure that the dynastic politics of the Bush/Clinton rule of the White House can finally come to an end. Whilst I don't think I'm still any clearer as to whether Obama really will bring about the change that he and his supporters go on about (and am I the only one to think that his "Yes We Can" theme tune riff is a rip off our very own Bob The Builder "Can we fix it? Yes We Can!" theme song?).

Could Obama really fix the mess the US finds itself it?? Well with regard to US-Latin American relations one can only hope that he really does learn from the George Bush's mistakes. There are those that have lamented US disregard toward Latin America in favour of the Middle East and the more pressing issues of terrorism and fighting wars here and there. But perhaps with the US taking its eye off Latin America has given Latin American governments the breathing space they've needed to etch out their own way. Perhaps it is no coincidence that it had been George Bush that the 'New Left' governments have risen to power and been so successful in promoting Latin American autonomy. That said Latin America can not detach itself from the US, it has never been able to and it never will, so therefore any US administration that chooses to reconstitute their foreign policy priorities by focusing on Latin Americas rather than other far-flung corners of the world can only be a good thing for Latin America. Well that is if the Administration in power at the time is one that treats Latin America as an equal partner rahter than some subregion full of wild, unruly Latinos as many Presidents have done before (think Nixon & Reagan).

So returning to the possible idea of an Obama presidency how would he treat Latin America? There is some mileage in the criticisms posted by his opponents that his campaign is more about rhetoric than actual policy, so it still isn't clear to me what he might do in office. Here is a US article a did come across that points out how a democratic presidency would be far more beneficial for Latin America than say a Republican one. Though with regard to trade matters this may not be the case. Obama: Pluses, minuses on Latin America issues. Question is how would he solve a problem like Chavez and Castro, or perhaps more interestingly what would they do without resource to their persistent anti-Bush rhetoric.