Resetting US-Latin America Relations

The bipartisan and multinational Inter-American Dialogue (IAD) is a leading US center for policy analysis, exchange, and communication on issues in Western Hemisphere affairs. Earlier this week in advance of a visit to the White House from Brazil's president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Dialogue released a 40 page report entitled A Second Chance: US Policy in Latin America (pdf.) outlining a ten-point 'pragmatic agenda' designed to guide the Obama administration through the most important challenges it is likely to confront in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report calls for a redirection of US policies to better align them with regional concerns and priorities including new directions on the drug trade and on Cuba. According to the report, US relations with Latin America are at the "lowest point since the end of the Cold War" with an increasingly assertive and restive region. Nonetheless, President Obama enjoys a great opportunity to reset and recast the US-Latam relationship.

The Made in US Financial Crisis & Latam
The report begins by noting the impact of the global financial crisis on Latin America and argues that the best way for the United States to help Latin America is by swiftly reviving its own economy and by avoiding protectionist measures.

"But the United States must also avoid protectionist measures that would reduce Latin American access to U.S. markets and investments - and use its influence to increase the resources of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and multilateral banks to help ensure that Latin America and other developing regions can secure the capital they need for their own stimulus packages. An economically flourishing Latin America is good for the US economy."

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Obama Begins to Reset US Policy Towards Cuba

The UK Guardian is reporting that the Obama Administration is preparing to announce policy changes towards Cuba prior to the Summit of the Americas scheduled for Port of Spain in Trinidad & Tobago late next month.

The White House has moved to ease some travel and trade restrictions as a cautious first step towards better ties with Havana, raising hopes of an eventual lifting of the four-decade-old economic embargo. Several Bush-era controls are expected to be relaxed in the run-up to next month's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago to gild the president's regional debut and signal a new era of "Yankee" cooperation.

The administration has moved to ease draconian travel controls and lift limits on cash remittances that Cuban-Americans can send to the island, a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of families.

"The effect on ordinary Cubans will be fairly significant. It will improve things and be very welcome," said a western diplomat in Havana. The changes would reverse hardline Bush policies but not fundamentally alter relations between the superpower and the island, he added. "It just takes us back to the 1990s."

If this is the extent of the outreach to Latin America, it's bound to disappoint. The 23 member Group of Rio has called on the Obama Administration to lift the embargo. The most forceful and important of Latin America's leaders comes to Washington this week for his first meeting with President Obama. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the President of Brazil, is expected to tell Obama that the whole of Latin America views the US embargo as anachronistic and vindictive. Furthermore, if the Obama Administration is serious about turning a new page in US-Latin American relations ending the embargo would go a long way to mending Washington's strained relations with the "pink tide" of leftist governments that stretch across the continent.

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Life Cuba Embargo....dry up Republican fundraising

This is no brainer too.

Cuba is just a red meat issue to raise funds for republicans.

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Cuba Libre: Republican Mike Erickson (OR-5) and his Cuba Vacation

I had been hearing rumors from friends who work for the Oregonian that a major story was about to break concerning Mike Erickson.  I do not know if this story is it but it's a fun one anyways.  Simply put, Mike Erickson claimed that he had taken a trip to Cuba in 2004 as an attempt to work with humanitarian organizations.  Instead, it appears that instead he used it as an excuse to have a good time, smoke a lot of Cuban cigars and have some fun cock fighting.

Major h/t to the Oregonian for this story: .ssf/2008/08/mike_ericksons_trip_to_cuba .html#comments

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun: ?diaryId=1281

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What it means to be a Republican

I subscribe to a few mailing lists, both liberal and conservative. This came from a liberal mailing list. I passed it on to my son and then decided to post it here. One could quibble over a few of these, but most of them hit home. Author unknown.

Note: I know this is mostly a cut-n-paste diary, but it's far too long to go into a comment thread. It's mostly meant in fun. (Sure it is...)

To be a Republican you need to believe that:

1. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

2. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's Daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

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