President Obama has been lambasted for spying in Brazil, accused of being a warmonger by Bolivia, dismissed as a “lost opportunity” by Argentina, and taunted in Nicaragua by calls for Latin America to draw up its own list of state sponsors of terrorism — with the United States in the No. 1 spot.
But now Latin American leaders have a new kind of vocabulary to describe him: They are calling him “brave,” “extraordinary” and “intelligent.”
After years of watching his influence in Latin America slip away, Mr. Obama suddenly turned the tables this week by declaring a sweeping détente with Cuba, opening the way for a major repositioning of the United States in the region. ...NYT
The Cuba move may turn out to be the most significant of Obama's president -- the top of the list, the most memorable achievement. While we're still stuck in the mode that puts Central Asia and Europe and the continental US at the top of our list of "most important" areas of concern, the future puts Latin America, southeast Asia, and the African continent in the spotlight. Our geopolitical snobbery does not serve us well. Nor does our dismissal of climate change as a major determinant in who survives economically and who doesn't.
“Our previous Cuba policy was clearly an irritant and a drag on our policy in the region,” said Roberta S. Jacobson, the American assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, adding that it had caused friction even with countries friendly to Washington. She said that countries “with whom we have significant differences are going to be, let’s say, thrown off their stride by a move like this.”
“It removes an excuse for blaming the United States for things,” she added. ...NYT
Reagan's actions in Central America will keep our reputation in the mud for a long time. But at least we're over the disgrace of our decision to shun Cuba. Maybe some history lessons focusing on how we assisted in the creation of Fidel Castro would make sense -- though they would have a tough time getting past the Texas schoolbook censors.
But, for now -- and thanks to Obama -- a lousy, damaging, paranoid US policy has ended.
“There will be radical and fundamental change,” said Andrés Pastrana, a former president of Colombia. “I think that to a large extent the anti-imperialist discourse that we have had in the region has ended. The Cold War is over.” ...NYT