Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Flying down to Rio

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on March 18, 2011

by The Economist, March 17th, 2011

Latin Americans like Barack Obama. They would like him even more if his rhetoric of partnership was matched by policy changes

In April 2009, shortly after becoming president of the United States, Barack Obama attended a 34-country Summit of the Americas in Trinidad where he charmed those present—even Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez—with a call for the often fractious relationship between the United States and its neighbours to become an “equal partnership”. Two years on Mr Obama remains wildly popular with ordinary Latin Americans. But as he sets off on March 19th for his first trip to South America, he will find it hard to shake off a familiar air of mutual frustration.

For a start, part of Mr Obama’s mind will surely be elsewhere, on the wrangling in Washington over the budget and on the events in the Arab world and Japan. It must once have seemed a good idea to spend a weekend in Rio de Janeiro, watching a song-and-dance show in a favela. But to his domestic opponents it may not appear so.

For many South Americans, the United States is no longer the only game in town (if it ever was). Trade with China is booming. Many South American countries feel increasingly confident that they can make their own mark in the world. That is especially true of Brazil, the most important leg of Mr Obama’s trip. (continue reading… )


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