Photo: President Obama prepares for trip to Latin America
As President Obama prepares to visit our neighbors to the south at the end of this week, the region is likely preparing to display the changes that Latin America has made in recent years and work on building with the U.S. with their new found strength as a region.
Obama is scheduled to visit El Salvador, Brazil, a Chile this week, though the U.S. budget crisis and possible partial government shutdown may delay the trip, the countries are still getting ready.
Recently, both Brazil and Chile have increased their investment contact with China, now making China a bigger trading party with the two countries than the United States.
Sergio Bitar, who has served at Chile’s mining minister under three different administrations, said, “South American, especially, feels more autonomous economically and politically now.”
In fact, a number of Latin American economies survived the global economic crisis better than the U.S. and even bounced back more quickly.
Bitar says the days of seeing the U.S. a economic parent are “over; it’s ended.”
This trip south will be the president’s first foreign trip of the year, and he will bring along the first lady and their two daughters.
Brazil’s new president Dilma Rousseff has indicated that she would like to form a tighter relationship with the U.S.
Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center said, “Brazil and the United States have to relearn how to relate to each other and this is an important step.”
This trip is also a promise fulfilled by President Obama, who in his State of the Union address, said that he would visit the three countries, and lawmakers are saying this trip must produce results.
Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar’s senior aide for Latin America and the Caribbean Cal Meacham said, “The trip will mean little if the president doesn’t get anything substantive… Just showing up isn’t enough. We have excellent U.S. ambassadors in the region; unfortunately, we have not seen the same quality from officials handling the region in the Obama administration.’’
Though there are no new policy initiatives expected in regards to Brazil and Chile, Obama could propose a Central America regional security plan in hopes of lending a hand in the fight against drugs and intimidation.
Bitar sees the message of thepresident’s Latin America trip to be empathy and a “vision for the future.”