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OBAMA FRACASA EN AMERICA LATINA IGUAL QUE EN RUSIA, EUROPA, MEDIO ORIENTE Y ASIA.

LA DIPLOMACIA DE OBAMA FRACASA EN AMERICA LATINA IGUAL QUE EN RUSIA, EUROPA, MEDIO ORIENTE Y ASIA.

OBAMA’S DIPLOMACY STUMBLES IN LATIN AMERICA, AS IT HAS WITH RUSSIA, EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA.

The Obama presidency was expected to herald closer ties after years of perceived neglect under Bush. But relations have soured amid the Honduran coup and Iran’s increasing ties in the region.

By Paul Richter
Los Angeles Times
January 3, 2010

Reporting from Washington

Just eight months ago, President Obama was calling Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva “my man” and suggesting that the South American country could become a leading U.S. partner in the region.

Since then, Brazil has criticized the U.S. approach to the coup in Honduras and warned the United States over plans to expand its military presence in Colombia.

U.S. officials, for their part, have complained about Lula’s increasing efforts to form economic and political ties with a leading American adversary, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Stop punishing him,” Lula shot back a few months ago.

The differences with Brazil underscore how the Obama administration’s Latin American relations have become marred by tensions and suspicions.

Polls indicate that Obama remains highly popular with Latin Americans, but his administration’s relationship with some regional governments has been tested by a series of developments. Those include the June 28 coup that toppled Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, a deal with Colombia giving the Pentagon use of seven bases for flights to combat drug trafficking and insurgency, stalled free trade deals, and Iran’s growing ties with Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia, among other Latin America countries.

Another area of tension is the anti-drug fight. Although U.S.-Mexican cooperation remains broad, other Central American and Caribbean countries are increasingly complaining that they receive less help than they need, and there are growing cries for the United States to do more to lessen demand at home, said Daniel Erikson of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank that specializes in Latin American issues.

Latin American leaders who hoped to move up the U.S. priority list have discovered that the new president, like his less popular predecessor, has most of his foreign policy attention focused elsewhere — namely Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The administration created expectations that were enormous, but sooner or later reality was going to catch up,” said Juan Carlos Hidalgo of the Cato Institute in Washington. “That’s what happened.”

It was always probable that the administration would come into conflict with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the allied left-leaning governments of Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador. After some early praise, Chavez has been critical of Obama, declaring recently, in a message carried by state media, “the Obama illusion is over.”

But the U.S. has had differences with governments closer to the center, too. These nations have been pleased with Obama’s calls for closer consultation, and his moves to wind down the U.S. mission in Iraq — a major element in the hemisphere’s unhappiness with President George W. Bush.

But many governments were unimpressed with U.S. efforts to negotiate Zelaya’s reinstatement in Honduras.

Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and others have refused, despite U.S. urging, to recognize the Nov. 30 presidential election won by wealthy rancher Porfirio Lobo. The governments contend that supporting the new Honduran leadership could encourage coups in other countries.

In early December, the Honduran Congress voted that the coup that deposed Zelaya should stand, favoring a motion against reinstatement by a vote of 111 to 14.

A senior administration official, who asked to remain unidentified because of the sensitivity of the subject, said that “there is more consensus on the future of Honduras than it appears.” He said he believes many countries share the view that the new Honduran government should include officials from both ideological poles, and expressed optimism that such a unity slate would be organized.

Another divisive issue is the 10-year deal signed Oct. 31 involving the bases in Colombia. Though it won’t increase the number of U.S. personnel in the country, it raised fears even among U.S. allies Chile and Brazil that the American military presence might spill over Colombia’s borders. Lula asked for assurances that U.S. forces would stay put.

In the case of Cuba, the Obama administration eased its opposition to the country’s entry into the Organization of American States and made a limited gesture to normalizing relations by reducing restrictions on Cuban Americans’ travel to the island.

The consensus in Latin America calls for a complete lifting of the long-standing economic embargo.

“The general reaction was that it was too little,” Hidalgo said.

The U.S. official said Latin American leaders have been sympathetic to Obama, recognizing “the enormous challenges this president faces, including the worst recession since the ‘30s.”

Peter DeShazo, a former State Department official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said many of the core U.S. goals would be unchanged — increasing security cooperation, trying to reform governments, fighting poverty and developing economies.

“There will be greater continuity than a lot of people expected,” he said. “Those who expected a sea change were misleading themselves.”

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Re: OBAMA FRACASA EN AMERICA LATINA IGUAL QUE EN RUSIA, EUROPA, MEDIO ORIENTE Y ASIA.

France’s Sarkozy Now ‘Anti-Obama’

OBAMA SE ACERCA A NUESTROS ENEMIGOS MIENTRAS SE DISTANCIA DE LOS AMIGOS DE U.S.

Soon after Barack Obama won the White House, French President Nicolas Sarkozy referred to him as “my friend” and strove to become the first European leader to meet with the newly elected American.

Now the honeymoon between the two leaders is over, according to The Financial Times.

Sarkozy has now shifted to “an anti-Obama pos...ition,” said Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, a spokesman for the opposition Socialists.

France turned down an American request to send more troops to Afghanistan, and Sarkozy has expressed frustration at what he perceives as Obama’s equivocation over Iran’s nuclear program and at the priority Obama has placed on the long-term goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons, the Times reports.

In a sharply worded speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Sarkozy alluded to Obama’s disarmament goals.

“We are right to talk about the future, but before the future there is the present, and the present is two major nuclear crises,” he said, referring to Iran and North Korea. “We are living in a real world, not a virtual world.”

Jack Kelly wrote on the Real Clear Politics Web site that Sarkozy “was furious with Barack Obama for his adolescent warbling about a world without nuclear weapons” at a meeting Obama chaired of the United Nations Security Council.

Sarkozy is reportedly still miffed over Obama’s refusal to attend an event with the French leader during his June visit to France to commemorate the D-Day landings, and has made disparaging comments about Obama’s decision-making and lack of prior government experience.

“French frustration is aimed at Washington’s hesitancy or even weakness,” according to the Times.