Obama’s Trip to Brazil: COHA’s Evaluation of the Upcoming Presidential Tour of Latin America (briefings available by telephone or in person)

A score of COHA specialists in U.S.-Latin American relations are available for briefings concerning President Obama’s upcoming trip to Latin America. On Saturday, the President leaves for Brazil for a two-day visit, marking the president’s first visit to a number of hemispheric locations. He will be traveling to Brasília, Brazil on March 19; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on March 20; Santiago, Chile on March 21; and San Salvador, El Salvador on March 22.

COHA welcomes inquiries from the media regarding the president’s upcoming trip to the three Latin American nations. (Note to the media: Call (202) 223-4975 or (202) 215-3473, or email coha@coha.org for more information, to schedule an interview, or to obtain a background briefing on the bilateral issues affecting each country the president will be visiting.) To reach COHA over the weekend call: (202) 333-1959 or (202) 215-3473

A number of possible points regarding the Obama trip that merit discussion are listed below:

1. The spread of drug trafficking and common crime throughout the hemisphere

2. Implications of Chinese, Russian and EU military and commodity diplomacy for U.S.-Latin American relations

3. Latin America’s pluralization of its diplomatic and trade ties and what it means for the future of regional links and “Washington’s backyard” mentality about the region.

4. U.S. paralysis in its reaction to Cuba’s negotiation bids to Washington as an obstacle to Obama’s attempts to rehabilitate North-South ties and to reform the White House’s current ineffective Latin American initiatives

5. The rise of UNASUR and Brazilian diplomacy as a challenge to Washington’s standing in the rest of the hemisphere, and lively changes to Brazil’s rise as a future superpower

6. The Obama Administration’s benign neglect of Latin America

7. Washington’s agenda for Latin America, which is narrow and devoid of a sweeping vision

8. Washington taking no steps to dismantle much of the Helms-Burton machinery that funneled large amounts of money to various domestic and Cuban anti-Castro groups

9. One area for budget-cutting being to defund Radio and TV Martí, which has proven to be relatively ineffective in communicating with the Cuba people

10. Why Chile and El Salvador were solicited as destinations for the President to visit and, for example, not Argentina and Colombia

11. Why the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs is so lackluster in its performance and lacking bold and smart new initiatives