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Where was Latin America in the Debate?

V-me Noticias, Commentary, Jorge Gestoso Posted: Sep 29, 2008

Traduccin al espaol

NEW YORK -- Within the past few weeks many significant foreign policy events have occurred impacting U.S. and Latin America relations -- Russia stepping up arms negotiations and joint military exercises with Venezuela, the U.S. ambassadors removal from Venezuela and Bolivia and Cubas post-hurricane request for normalizing trade relations. Each of these events could certainly have offered plenty of debate rhetoric.

Yet, in this first foreign policy debate between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain there was a complete omission of Latin America.

This omission was discussed by V-mes political experts in the networks post debate analysis noting that topics on Mexico, immigration, violence, Cuba, the situation in Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil are of great interest to people in the United States, especially Latinos, and these topics were simply not part of the debate, said Jorge Castaeda, former Foreign Minister of Mexico and visiting professor at Columbia University. I counted only one mention of Latin America and one mention of Venezuela.

Obama was the only one that happened to even mention any of the United States neighbors to the south but this mention came in the context of other issues. We've got challenges, for example, with China, where we are borrowing billions of dollars. They now hold a trillion dollars' worth of our debt. And they are active in countries like -- in regions like Latin America, and Asia, and Africa. The conspicuousness of their presence is only matched by our absence, because we've been focused on Iraq, he said.

The only Latin country mentioned by name was Venezuela and this came up in the context of a discussion on oil, That means that we, as one of the biggest consumers of oil -- 25 percent of the world's oil -- have to have an energy strategy not just to deal with Russia, but to deal with many of the rogue states we've talked about, Iran, Venezuela, Obama said.

With this first debate on foreign policy shifting to the economy, it is striking that the United States closest neighbors and some of our biggest trading partners and energy suppliers were conspicuously absent from the discussion.

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