Guess who is visiting Cuba?
As we focus on Iraq and the crisis on the US-Mexico border, President Putin is headed to Cuba and a few other Latin America countries.
According to news reports, President Putin's Spanish/Portuguese translators will be very busy:
"Putin will begin his six-day tour with the July 11 visit to Cuba, where he will meet President Raul Castro and the 87-year-old father of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, the Kremlin said on Friday. The visit to the Communist-run island will come as tensions remain high between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis. Havana has sided with its old ally Russia in the conflict.
Putin and his Cuban hosts are expected to discuss cooperation in energy, transport, aviation, space and health, the Kremlin said.
Ahead of the visit, Russian parliament voted on Friday to write off 90 percent of Cuba's Soviet-era debt of more than $35 billion (26 billion euros) and said the rest would be earmarked for investment projects in Cuba.
From Cuba, Putin will travel to Argentina for trade and energy talks with President Cristina Kirchner, before moving on to a summit of the BRICS group of developing countries in Brazil.
On the sidelines of the summit, Putin is expected to meet leaders of China, India and South Africa, the Kremlin said.
The highlight of the trip's final leg will be a handover ceremony at the end of the World Cup finals, where Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will pass on responsibility for the tournament to Putin.
Russia will host the football extravaganza in 2018 and has pledged to spend billions of dollars on stadiums and infrastructure for the tournament.
The Kremlin strongman will also meet with Brazilian business people as he seeks investment for his country's embattled economy."
Frankly, the visit to Cuba is symbolic and not much more than that. I don't think that President Putin will bail out Cuba like his ancestors did in the early 1960s. In other words, Pres Putin may miss the old Soviet empire but is not stupid enough to sell the Castro brothers anything on credit.
The visit to Argentina is not that significant either, i.e. another basket case! Again, Argentina needs credit and Putin is not a loan officer on this trip.
Brazil is another matter because it is a large economy. Also, I'm sure that President Putin knows that China and Brazil are developing strong economic ties. Brazil is also a huge source of raw materials and Putin probably wants a bit of that.
Last, but not least, the Putin visit would draw little interest from Latin America leaders if President Obama was in a stronger position. The visit is just another example of how weak President Obama is.