U.S. Elections: Latin America MIA

Despite the oversized impact that the United States has beyond its borders, Barack Obama’s victory was won over wholly domestic issues. Even the so-called “foreign policy debate”—the last debate of the campaign—veered consistently back to domestic affairs. An op-ed I published in the final stretch of the campaign was all about how Latin America was totally missing from the presidential race. The op-ed opens:

Latin America remains missing in action in the battle for the White House.

A 16-second sound bite about boosting regional trade from Mitt Romney was all the candidates had to say about Latin America during the campaign’s foreign policy debate. “Latin America’s economy is almost as big as the economy of China,” said Romney during the final debate in Boca Raton, Fla. Nonetheless, the region remained one of the night’s most glaring omissions.

Another Obama White House will be marginally better for the region than one led by Romney—that much is clear—but nothing will really change. As the op-ed concludes (spoiler alert!), “When it comes to Latin America, neither presidential contender is the ‘change’ candidate.”

U.S. neglect is probably the best option for the region’s self-determination. But the point of the op-ed was to show how both candidates are out of touch with the region—especially Romney (e.g. his proposed “Reagan Economic Zone“)—and to bring more critical attention to U.S.-led war on drugs. With the U.S. being so inward-looking, publishing anything related to Latin America or the drug war in the mainstream media needs a strong news hook.


P.s. Thanks to the Progressive Media Project, my op-eds go out on the McClatchy-Tribune News Service wire. Besides being the third-largest newspaper company in the U.S., it is also mainly geared toward local, small market newspapers—something that helps reach broad audiences.

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