U.S. and Latin America Move Further Apart
Yesterday Evo Morales was inaugurated as the new President of Bolivia. A coca farmer, who is the first indigenous president in Bolivia's history, plans to nationalize the natural gas industry, increase coca farming, and transform the economy using a socialist model. He is an open admirer of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.
As the Bush administration has been single-mindedly focused on the "war on terror", they've twiddled their thumbs as Latin America elects leader after leader who plans on taking their country leftward -- Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, and now Bolivia. And there are more elections to come with more leftist candidates expected to win. By 2008, when Bush leaves office, Bush's eight years will have marked pretty much the entire South American content's move from mostly center-right governments to leftist or center-left governments.
In many cases these changes of governments also come with changes in relations. There is outright hostility to the United States in many countries. Perhaps some of this is due to simple neglect. The U.S. hasn't done anything to enhance its relations with the South because its been too busy with a one-issue foreign policy.
If one were just looking at the numbers, the U.S. should be on much better terms with Latin America. Hispanics make up more than one in eight U.S. residents and are the fastest growing population segment. Most countries in South and Central America have their largest (and most financially successful) diaspora in the United States. In fact, there are about 18 million first generation immigrations who were born in Central or South America who are now living in the U.S. That's about half the population of Argentina and twice the population of Bolivia. The U.S. is the fifth largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico, Colombia, Spain, and Argentina.
Instead of moving closer together, though, the U.S. and Latin America are moving further apart, and that's a shame. The U.S. is moving dangerously to the right and Latin America is most certainly moving too far to the left. I do hope that the next decade will see everybody moving back toward the center.
Labels: Current Events