Last night, the presidential debate was all about the Middle East, Israel, mixed in with a little bit of China. All we really heard about Latin America was this from Governor Romney (oh yeah, he also mentioned that President Obama likes to cozy up with Castro and Chávez):
Number two, we’re going to increase our trade. Trade grows about 12 percent year. It doubles about every — every five or so years. We can do better than that, particularly in Latin America. The opportunities for us in Latin America we have just not taken advantage of fully. As a matter of fact, Latin America’s economy is almost as big as the economy of China. We’re all focused on China. Latin America is a huge opportunity for us — time zone, language opportunities.
Romney’s comments got us thinking: where were the real hard questions about Latin America? This whole “increase trade” line worried us a bit. It had us thinking of about US policy in Latin America since “manifest destiny” became the calling card of this country. So, our question to the candidates would have been easy: Speak to the fact that the United States has initiated at least 56 military interventions (at least those that we know of) in Latin America and has also actively participated in the militarization of a drug war that has led to more than 60,000 dead in recent years—a war that we have been losing since President Nixon began it in 1972. How do you change US policy towards Latin America and Mexico specifically that goes away from the typical imperialistic actions that have become the standard? What do you say to that, or are you two just just like the rest of the guys who came before you?