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May 3, 2013
How wrong has President Obama been about Latin America?
President Obama is down in Mexico catching up with President Pena-Nieto and all things south of the border. The US media will probably focus on immigration reform and immigration reform and immigration reform.
President Obama will apparently "pitch" immigration reform in Mexico. Maybe he will have better luck with Mexico's Congress than the Senate Democrats who've given him "zero" votes to his last two budget proposals. As we've discussed before, the only bipartisanship in Washington DC is opposition to President Obama, from gun control to budgets.
Unfortunately, all of the talk about immigration reform will overlook something good happenings south of the border.
President Pena-Nieto is pushing reforms in industries like telecommunications and energy. He has also gone after the corrupt public teachers' union.
The Washington Post recently praised President Pena-Nieto for bringing the political parties together and working to pass legislation. It is the Mexican version of "the grand bargain".
Of course, Mexico's "grand bargain" is the result of President Pena-Nieto's leadership. He is leading and tackling structural problems. He is not reading "hope and change" speeches from the teleprompter.
Maybe President Pena-Nieto can teach President Obama a thing or two about leadership, the missing ingredient in the Obama presidency!
There are also interesting alignments underway in Latin America:
a) The Caracas wing, or countries falling apart like Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela.The bad news is that this the anti-American group. The good news is that these economies are tanking under the Chavez/Castro inspired leadership; and,
b) The "reform" wing, or free market reform economies that are creating jobs and a middle class in Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico.
There is also Brazil, one of the top 10 GDP's in the world. By the way, Brazil's last two presidents came from the left but governed from a very pragmatic center that continues to attract foreign investment.
Last, but not least, the success of Mexico, Colombia, Peru & Chile also point out just how wrong President Obama was about Latin America.
First, President Obama opposed all of the free trade agreements that have been critical to rejuvenating these economies. He not only opposed them but hung around with people promoting lies about Colombia ("killing labor union leaders") & closed the US-Mexico border to Mexican trucks based on misinformation about the security record of Mexican transport companies.
Second, President Obama's indifference toward Latin America has allowed China to cut economic deals with the region & permitted Venezuela to get cozy with Iran.
Again, the media will ask about immigration reform and immigration reform and immigration reform. However, some should ask President Obama about his total and complete lack of leadership in a region vital to our national interest.
Some correctly say that President Obama has been "leading from behind" in Syria and the Middle East. He has been "missing in action" with respect to Latin America.