Report: Obama MIA in Latin America

Central and South America feel "erased" under Obama.

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Add Latin America to the list of regions upset with President Obama's lack of follow-through on campaign and White House promises.

"Whatever changes Obama's presence may have introduced into the White House, Latin America remains forgotten," says prominent author and journalist Marco Gandasegui Jr. in a new and scathing report in the influential Latin American Perspectives. "Most observers agree that, for Obama, Latin America continues to be terra incognita."

In his critical review of Obama's presidency, the University of Panama professor says that Latin leaders, especially pro-Democracy advocates, have been let down by the administration. They expected Obama to lift the Cuban embargo, lessen the U.S. military influence in several nations and support democracy efforts. But so far, nada.

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"After his two years in office, most observers in the region agree that the United States has yet to deliver in three areas: ending the Cuban embargo, respecting democratic institutions (Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador), and abandoning its military agenda (e.g., the Colombia Plan, the Mérida Initiative, and the Fourth Fleet)," writes Gandasegui.

"In the first two years of Obama's administration Latin America was practically erased from the map in the White House," he adds.

Of special concern is the U.S. support for democracies, he wrote: "Obama has continued Bush's policy, antagonizing the region's more progressive governments and their twenty-first-century socialist project. This is a significant change from his televised condemnation of the assassinations of workers in Colombia. In 2007 Obama wrote to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying that the United States had to find a balance between military intervention and social and economic reforms in Colombia. And yet, as president, he has continued to finance the Colombia Plan, sent troops to Costa Rica, and begun the construction of new naval air bases in Panama."

Even Obama's change mantra from the 2008 campaign and his 2010 electoral efforts get whacked. Writes Gandasegui:

"In spite of his discourse of 'change,' Obama's cabinet is not very different from Bush's. His foreign policy (which the United States terms 'national security') team is very similar; he has even kept the same secretary of defense. With regard to economics, he has chosen the same group that, led by Bill Clinton, tried to take over world trade in the 1990s. Obama said that he symbolized change, but it seems that there was little content to his discourse. The outcome of Obama's first two years is reflected in the November 2010 electoral results. The people of the United States did not back his militaristic foreign policy or his economic policy, which turned its back on 'Main Street,' and they were not convinced by the degree of ethnic diversity he introduced to the White House. His party lost its majority in the House of Representatives and almost lost the Senate; it also did badly in terms of governors and mayors."