Latin America Warms Up to Obama

"Some Brazilians, including trade negotiators, are a little worried about his ethanol policies and democratic protectionism with agricultural policies, especially against Brazilian ethanol, which is a major export," analyst Schneyer said. "By now, everyone in the U.S. knows that Brazil produces cheaper ethanol than in the U.S., so Brazil has been hopeful it would strike down the tariffs, but Obama has not signaled that he would do that, although that would be up to Congress."

The rest of the region celebrated the result as a positive step toward solidifying relations between the continents. From Cuba, where the state paper, Granma, dedicated a spread to the news, to Bolivia, where President Evo Morales -- the country's first-ever indigenous president -- waxed lyrical about the achievement:

"Mr. Obama's victory is historic," Morales said in a televised address. "The national government congratulates him, because he is a man that comes from one of the most discriminated, enslaved sectors of society. I am sure he will continue making history."

In Colombia, Obama will face a challenge in the war against drugs. The recent $5 billion aid package -- known as Plan Colombia -- has not reached the stated goal of cutting narcotics production in half, according to a U.S. congressional report released on Wednesday.

Plan Colombia also caused a storm over the human rights violations that have occurred in its name, which include an upsurge in paramilitary activity and the murder of civilians, with many U.S. Democras believing that there should be a reduction in funds allocated to the plan. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has said that he welcomes a discussion with Obama on the subject.

"It would be good to talk with President Obama," Alvaro Uribe told local radio. "We have made a lot of effort and have results to show, though we are still not satisfied."

Ahead of the actual results this week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in a rather subdued reaction, said, "Hopefully, with Obama, we will enter a new phase."

He also expressed a desire to meet with Obama but only "on equal and respectful terms."

Obama himself has attempted to dampen the anti-American feeling that Chavez often expresses in his numerous speeches and televised addresses.

"Generally, most people have been happy with Obama's win as the Democrats are perceived to look more favorably towards Latin America," Venezuelan journalist Fernando Jauregui told ABC News. "If Obama invites Chavez to the White House, he would be more than delighted to go and his attitude towards the U.S. will have to change."

And there's the rub. Now that "The Devil,"' as Chavez called Bush, is leaving the White House, it effectively leaves Chavez at a loss for a nemesis to whip up a dramatic bout of anti-U.S. sentiment.

"There are many people who are anti-Chavez that are upset by the fact that Obama has said that he is willing to speak with him," Jauregui said. "But on the other hand, 'anti-Chavistas' believe that with Obama in office, Chavez will not have a good enough excuse to fight against the U.S., at least not for a while or at least until Obama makes a statement that Chavaz will disapprove of."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6332277. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6332277. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6332277.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...