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El Universal, Venezuela

Obama and the Latin Promise


By Martin Santivanez Vivanco

Translated By Alison Woods

10 February 2013

Edited by Kath­leen Weinberger


Venezuela - El Universal - Original Article (Spanish)

Now that the euphoria of Obama taking office has passed, it's in our best interest to analyze what Barack Obama's real role has been in regional politics. Above all, why aren't Latinos immune to his powerful charisma? The historic defeat of Republicans (71 to 21 percent of the Latin vote) is only understandable based on two variables: the indignant radicalization of Republican speech against immigrants — an indefensible and offensive act of extremism — and the subtle attraction of democratic volunteerism, idealist speech that is expressed in the creation of a network of social welfare programs that fit perfectly with the old Latin political fiscal culture of the philanthropic ogre.

Latin America hasn't been a priority for Washington for several presidencies now. Not even Chavism in its entire splendor could achieve the waking up of the proactive interest of the White House. The new liberal democratic Leviathan hegemony has opted for appeasement and damage control. However, Obamism, just as time passes, will strengthen his position of "continental cause." In fact, the probable legalization of the eleven million undocumented immigrants (unless radical blindness triumphs) will be sufficient for Barack Obama to revalidate the high popularity ratings he maintains in all of Latin America. In spite of this, it is improbable that his administration will revive the ideological fight with Cuba or that it will decisively confront the Bolivian Caesarisms that trample Latin democracy. With respect to the region, its foreign politics will continue being what it always has been — the words of the president: beautiful characters written in bronze that are of limited efficiency in the real world.

Under the Obamic vision of the world, the speech of the U.S. essentially continues being different from that in Latin America. On one side, we find with the formidable mobilizing myth of manifest destiny (a City upon a Hill) that is based on a theoretic map, the supremacy of the U.S. throughout the globe; on the other side, the recurring desire, the great Latin promise, a type of indicative utopia that influences the Pan-American position from before Bolivar and San Martin. This unfinished dream has little to do with the real hegemony of our brothers to the north. Because of this, in spite of Obama, in spite of his rhetorical promises and the exceptionalism at the base of the political mission of his country ("We will support democracy from the Americas to the Middle East"), we Latin Americans have to be conscious that the continental democratization process that Obama has as a sympathizer, an affectionate spectator, maybe to an inspired orator that promotes commercial agreement. And yes, this is a lot. But Obama isn't a leader capable of beginning the great political offensive that Latin America demands to weaken the autocratic pact that causes so much damage in the region.



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