November 03, 2008

Possible US Approaches to Latin America and Bolivia

MABB © ®

Ok, here is a brief summary of the interview with Dan Restrepo, Obama adviser on Latin America.

Obama's approach
  • 1. Meetings with leaders (Chavez and Castro) (with conditions) to convey democratic values
  • 2. Cooperation on Democracy and security
  • 3. The establishment of a Latin America office (in the White House?)
  • 4. Revision of NAFTA
  • 5. Support of TLC with Peru
  • 6. Critical of CAFTA
  • 7. Support Colombian on security
  • 8. Critical of Colombian action against union leaders and ONGs
  • 9. Skeptical of TLC with Colombia (wants to make it conditional upon the criticism)
  • 10. Will focus more on Mexico-US border control and domestic reduction of use of drugs
  • 11. Allow Cubans in Miami to visit family in Cuba and send money
  • 12. Continuation of the embargo
A commenter asked, does it really make a difference if we get to know McCain's approach to Latin America? At this point in time, I tend to make myself the same question.

Also, in July this year I have taken a look at this same question and looked for some clarity on Obama's and McCain's approach to Latin America.


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Otto, a friend of mine, told me about this BBC Mundo article where the two foreign policy advisers from Obama and McCain speak about their own approach to Latin America. This is an interesting article that could shed some light on future policy towards the hemisphere.

I am posting this before I read them, and therefore without commentary.

PS. The article is in Spanish only. Hopefully those of us who read the article will have a discussion so people who cannot read Spanish are able to know what is going on. Otherwise, I will summarize the articles in the next days. Enjoy!


Thomas S. Higinbotham said...

Thank you for directing me to the BBC Mundo article. So far I've only read the interview with Obama's advisor (is there any point in reading McCain's policies towards LA?).

Anyway, as much as I wish to believe his mantra of change I'm afraid I can't see much scope for change coming from an Obama presidency with regards to Latin America. The rhetoric may well be there - rhetoric that promises cooperation and dialogue with even the most anti-American of Latin American Presidents (i.e. Castro and Chavez) - but I can't see him having anything to gain domestically from radically changing his policies towards Venezuela or Cuba. Iraq and Afghanistan (and maybe Russia) will remain his foreign policy priorities. Therefore the question should be more about how Chavez & Morales and the likes will react to an Obama presidency. If they curb their obstructive rhetoric, stop engaging in pointless diplomatic tugs of war with Washington, then yes there is scope for a possible change. But let's see...

mabb said...

Interesting points. I do agree that most US foreign policy is hard to change. I suggested that in the comments part of the prior post. The most significant policy change I am expecting coming from an Obama presidency is the relaxing of the Cuban embargo and perhaps a couple of meetings with Castro (Raul), Chavez and Morales. This will, of course help more the latinos and not Obama.

I also agree that an Obama presidency will place the ball back in to the Latin American camp. How will Chavez and Morales react to him, will be important. I mean, they have to have realized policies will not change very much, what will change perhaps is the relationship between presidents. At least they'll be in speaking terms.

mcentellas said...

My optimism for a change in foreign policy w/ Obama in the White House stems from only one thing: ethnic experience. Obama is not white, and he grew up much of his life in the third world. I don't see how that wouldn't have shaped his attitudes towards greater empathy for the interests of "others."

mabb said...

To the contrary, I am skeptical that any significant change will take place because Obama is president now. The thing worth mentioning is that he is African-American and thus minority.

That should have some impact on society, but real changes in our lives? I am not sure.

He will not have it easy. The oncoming recession will bring many headaches for him. It is important now for him to surround himself with competent people. The twin deficits are hard to deal with and one certainly does not only fight them with investment in infrastructure for the sole purpose of creating jobs. Those jobs will only be temporary. Just to cite one thing.

mcentellas said...

I don't think there will be major macro changes to US policy, perhaps even fewer than the window dressing changes under Carter. But I do think that Obama will react differently to events because of his experience living in Indonesia during tough political times (fomented by US involvement). So I think that kind of experience is unique to a US president. We'll see what effect it has. On the other hand, Obama is a "Reaganesque" hawk.

dv said...

@mcentellas: He arrived in Indonesia at age 6 and left at age 10 to attend an elite and expensive school in Hawaii. In Indonesia he was well off and went to what have been characterized as schools for the elite of Indonesian society. I don't know about you, but my world was pretty small at that age. He probably didn't see much beyond what was right in front of him. I think his mother and grandparents had a much bigger influence on his values from what Obama himself has said.