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Latin America Drops from the Map: Ignored in Last Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy

Latin America Drops from the Map: Ignored in Last Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy

Photo: Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, presidential debate

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Last night’s final Presidential debate, focusing on foreign policy, covered a lot of geography but on the whole ignored Latin America.

To listen to President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney you’d never know that Mexico is not only America’s neighbor with 1,951 miles of shared border it is also one of our largest trading partners.  You would also never know that Latin America covers almost 4 percent of the Earth’s surface and close to 600 million people live there, making it significant in anyone’s foreign policy barometer.

The majority of the foreign policy debate focused on hot spots in the Middle East: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Libya.  There was much discussion on areas of conflict were we have military engagement with the narco wars ravaging Mexico and Central America completely ignored.  This is the foreign threat that lays closest to our border and has the impact to negatively affect our national security overnight, yet no mention.

There was no discussion on the impact of immigration from Latin America on foreign policy or how to handle Cuba going forward. Many Latinos would like to see if we can move past the current foreign policy that dates back to the 1960’s. 

The omission of Mexico in the debate by both candidates shows the relationship is often taken for granted and at times defined in terms of negatives like illegal immigration and drug smuggling.  To omit discussing the drug war and the flow of illegal guns to Mexico was intentional because there are no easy answers with popular policies attached making the issue a political pariah.

There was consensus about America’s role in the world between the candidates more than you might think, but it was Romney who briefly espoused the financial benefits of expanded trade with Latin America. Romney accused Obama of failing to take advantage of opportunities for expanding trade in the region.

True.

Latin America got another brief mention when Romney spoke of global menaces.  Romney chided Obama for seeking dialogue with the likes of Venezuelan President Hugo Chaves and the Castro brothers of Cuba. 

So if Obama has a commanding lead amongst Latino voters did this slight of Latin America mean anything?

No. 

Latino voters like everyone else will look at the debate trifecta to determine if they will change their vote - no signs of that happening.  Obama continues to have a commanding lead amongst registered Latino voters going into the final weeks of the campaign.