Coming next from COHA Research: Obama in Latin America – a New Dawn or Mixed Signals in his Hemispheric Strategy?

In the coming days, COHA will release an overview of the cluster of issues relating to U.S.-Latin American relations under the Obama administration:

-Barack Obama inherits a neglected region – largely due to the Iraq distraction – from the Bush administration and as a result, faces a series of unique issues, some of which have been brought on by the area’s growing sense of autonomy.

-Outside influences are being registered by such major partners as the EU, Russia and China, the ‘War on Drugs’ is faltering, and Washington’s preeminence in exercising control over trade and political matters has been ebbing.

-The region’s leaders – especially Castro and Lula – have responded warmly to the new president, but Venezuela’s Chávez and Obama have now exchanged tart rhetoric which is worrisome regarding what could have been constructive bilateral ties.

-The likelihood of Obama’s campaign rhetoric of ‘change’ being reflected in his policy towards Latin America could be tempered by the appointment of Clinton and Kirk to key administration positions, where they may embrace hawkish attitudes to what they see as left-leaning developments in the region. In the case of Secretary of State Clinton, much will rest on whether she is content to shy away from the unproductive centrist policies of the regional political appointees chosen during her husband’s 1990s presidential terms.