Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Meet the New Policy, Same As the Old One

On thing that has bothered me is how little Americans seem to care about policies that relate to Latin America. When Americans do care about Latin America, it's in a very narrow we-don't-want-no-foreigners-here debate over immigration or a "buy American" brand of capitalist jingoism.

Luckily superstar Campus Progress/TAP intern Jake Blumgart actually went to the trouble of doing some reporting on where Latin American policy is at. The result is a little more than depressing:
[Cynthia] McClintock is a political science professor at George Washington University and belongs to the Latin American Studies Association, the largest academic organization in the field. After the election, McClintock co-signed a letter to President Obama urging him to respect the new popular, leftist movements that have been springing up across Latin America over the past ten years. By adding her name to the letter (and penning an article explaining why), McClintock placed herself outside of Washington’s mainstream consensus on Latin American policy. She arrived at the hearing for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere subcommittee well aware of that fact.

Many held high hopes for the hearing, which was the first held by a foreign affairs subcommittee post-inauguration. Titled “U.S. Policy Toward Latin America in 2009 and Beyond,” the meeting could have signaled a new chapter in U.S.-Latin American relations—which would have come as a relief to many in the hemisphere after eight years of disastrous Bush administration policies (on Cuba, drugs, and immigration, to name a few). But as the hearing got underway, McClintock—and anyone else who hopes Barack Obama’s mantra of change will apply to Latin America, too—was sorely disappointed. Instead of charting a new way forward in U.S.-Latin American relations, the hearing reconfirmed America’s commitment to polices that have been overwhelmingly rejected across the region. Both representatives and witnesses adhered to the tired solutions of the past, promoting Cold War era animosity and discredited neoliberal trade policies that do not reflect the new political realities in Latin America or the promise of Obama’s multilateral foreign policy. As it turns out, the new U.S. policy towards Latin America will look awfully familiar.
It's more than a little depressing how Cold War-era policies are alive and well in relations with Latin America, even though the Cold War itself is long dead.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...