February 18, 2008

Obama and Clinto: Ambivalence Is the Word When It Comes to Latin America

MABB © ®

Andres Oppenheimer, an opinionated journalist at the El Nuevo Herald in Miami, has an interesting op-ed article where he contrasts Obama's and Clinton's stands against Latin America. Who is better for the region? he asks... (in Spanish).

Mi opinión: En general, tanto Obama como Clinton serían mejores que McCain para Latinoamérica en materia de inmigración (un tema clave para México y Centroamérica), y peores que McCain en materia de comercio (un tema clave para Panamá, Colombia y los países que quieren firmar acuerdos de libre comercio con Washington DC).

Entre Obama y Clinton, él representa el cambio con algunos riesgos por su inexperiencia, y ella representa una reforma marginal con mayor certidumbre.

La prueba decisiva será cuál de ellos estaría dispuesto a designar al primer Secretario de Estado hispano. Ahora que Estados Unidos ha tenido dos Secretarios de Estado afroamericanos, uno tras otro, tal vez haya llegado el momento de elegir uno que sea parte del mayor grupo minoritario de Estados Unidos, que esté compenetrado con una de las regiones más importantes --y menos tomadas en cuenta-- para los intereses estadounidenses.

In his opinion, both would be better than McCain on immigration, but worst on trade. The decisive thing would be who designates the first Latino Secretary of State. Although, he does make a reference at Obama's lack of experience vs. Clinton's experience with Latin America.


Jorge said...

Maybe I am being too cynical, but it seems to me that it won't make any difference to Latin America who is elected. They are all utterly ignorant of the region and they will just continue the policies in place. They think about Latin America just in terms of immigration, if at all.

The new government, whether Obama, Clinton or McCain, will probably try to repair some of the damage done to relations with the rest of the world during the catastrophic Bush years, but don't hold your breath for a fundamental change in attitude towards Latin America. Unfortunately, the Miami gusanos have permanently hijacked the U.S. Latin America policy and the willingness to enforce the Cuban embargo is still the yardstick against which all politicians are measured (just see Oppenheimer's article). It is sad that no candidate is willing to challenge the gusanos and stop the nonsense for fear of loosing their votes in a crucial electoral state.

miguel (mabb) said...

I agree with you on the over all view that It'll probably not change very much. Perhaps some change we'll see on immigration legislation.

However, something is bound for change. If not from the US side, from the Lat Am side. Latest development, Castro is gone and there are some expectations that something will change. Perhaps in Miami as well?

Also, the push for change is coming from Lat Am. The hostile openly policy Chavez is following or the confrontational policy Evo is pushing. Not to mention Correa, who is also not a "friend" of the US. At the very least, the Andean region is pushing for some change. The US will have to react. It cannot go on maintaining the status quo.

Other external forces might play a role too. Look at China. They just reported (I forget where) that the commercial exchange with Lat Am has exceeded the optimist forecast of some years back.

There is plenty happening, I just don't know what is the US waiting for.

Jorge said...


I wrote my comment before learning of Fidel's resignation. Maybe that opens a small possibility of a new attitude towards Cuba. Since the bogeyman is no longer there, it will be somewhat easier for American politicians to propose something different from the failed hard-line policies championed by the Miami Cubans.

On the Cuban side, there may be some softening of the rhetoric - Raúl has already pointed in this direction - but they will not suddenly throw themselves into the arms of the U.S. and sell out their island to U.S. business interests. They are very proud of having resisted constant aggression for almost 50 years and the last think they want is the Miami Cubans taking over.

miguel (mabb) said...

Yes, I figured you hadn't seen it yet. And I do agree. I think we are not to expect large masses of people going out on the streets of Havana asking for freedom and democracy.

But, one thing is for sure, some change is a comin'