Despite reports in the mainstream press to the contrary, the optimism sparked by Vicente Fox’s unprecedented electoral victory and the new political openness in Mexico, which he has inspired, are not likely to permanently reduce undocumented migration from Mexico to the United States. Rather, both the human rights situation on the border and the future stability of the U.S.-Mexico region necessitate a change in the way the U.S. and Mexico are handling crossborder migration.
President Bush worries that the “United States might become militarily engaged” in Colombia. It’s a little late for that. Reports that American civilians were involved in an exchange of fire between FARC guerrillas and Colombian police last week put U.S. military involvement in sharp focus. The millions of dollars invested in renovating military bases in El Salvador, Ecuador, and the Caribbean, together with the training of new counternarcotics battalions, indicate that the U.S. has long term military plans in the region–even if George W. Bush hasn’t figured it out yet. His meeting with Colombian President Andres Pastrana provides an important and timely opportunity to evaluate and even reverse U.S. military involvement.
The Latin American region received little attention during either the presidential campaign or in the press coverage of the incoming administration.
George W. Bush’s decision to make his first overseas trip to Mexico, in mid-February, has generated a great deal of speculation about what this could possibly mean for changes in U.S. policy toward Latin America over the next four years. It is clear that Mexico is vastly more familiar and comfortable for Bush than any other foreign country. In light of the questions raised about the former Texas governor’s foreign policy experience and competence during the campaign, it is hardly surprising that he would look first to the country immediately south of the Rio Grande to show he is up to the job.
I’m going to address two issues. One is a general critique of U.S. international drug control policy, the so-called War on Drugs that we’re waging, primarily in the Andean region of Latin America, and more specifically, U.S. policy toward Colombia and the $1.7 billion aid package, primarily military assistance for Colombia, that’s presently pending on Capitol Hill.
Key Points U.S. policy toward Cuba has changed little since the end of the cold war, maintaining and even intensifying efforts to isolate Fidel Castro. International reaction to Washington’s isolation of Cuba has been overwhelmingly negative.
As the Washington, DC area recovers from effects of Hurricane Isabel, President George W. Bush keeps trying to divert the potential “perfect storm” forming from the combination of the constant stream of bad news coming out of the Middle East and growing domestic discontent over the war and occupation in Iraq.