Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Latin Americanists Advise Obama to Follow Good Neighbor Precedent
Anticipating a democratic victory in the November 4 presidential elections, 368 academics specializing in Latin America recently sent a letter urging Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama to become a partner, rather than an adversary, concerning changes already under way in Latin America. The signers expressed their hope that an Obama administration will embrace the opportunity to inaugurate a new period of hemispheric understanding and collaboration for the welfare of the entire Hemisphere. The letter, whose signatories included the current president of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) and twelve LASA past presidents, noted: “Latin Americans have often viewed the United States not as a friend but as an oppressor, the guarantor of an international economic system that works against them, rather than for them-- the very antithesis of hope and change. The Bush Administration has made matters much worse, and U.S. prestige in the region is now at a historic low. Washington's tendency to fight against hope and change has been especially prominent in recent U.S. responses to the democratically elected governments of Venezuela and Bolivia. “While anti-American feelings run deep, history demonstrates that these feelings can change. In the 1930s, after two decades of conflict with the region, the United States swore off intervention and adopted a Good Neighbor Policy. Not coincidentally, it was the most harmonious time in the history of U.S.-Latin American relations. In the 1940s, nearly every country in the region became our ally in World War Two. It can happen again.” Concerning immigration and drug policy, the scholars advised Obama: “The way to manage immigration is not by building a giant wall, but rather, the United States should support more equitable economic development in Mexico and Central America and, indeed, throughout the region. In addition, the U.S. must reconsider drug control policies that have simply not worked and have been part of the problem of political violence, especially in Mexico, Colombia and Peru.” Most of those signing are members of the Latin American Studies Association, the largest and most influential professional association of its kind in the world. See Global Good Neighbor Initiative, a project of the Americas Policy Program of CIP.