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Where was Latin America in foreign policy debate?
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama hardly discussed Latin America during Monday's debate.
October 23rd, 2012
11:59 AM ET

Where was Latin America in foreign policy debate?

By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN

(CNN) – During last night's foreign policy debate, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney argued over the war in Afghanistan, nuclear crisis with Iran, tension with Israel, the rise of China and America’s role in the world.

But Latin America hardly came up and Twitter users, especially the Latino community, were not pleased.

Romney mentioned Latin America during talk about a plan to increase trade.

“We can do better than that, particularly in Latin America," he said. "The opportunities for us in Latin America we have just not taken advantage of fully. 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."

Obama did not respond to Romney's comment on Latin America.

Some were surprised there was no mention of  Operation Fast and Furious. Since 2006, drug-related violence has led to more than 50,000 deaths. Obama hosted Calderon during the North American Leaders’ Summit last spring, when Mexico’s gun violence and drug trafficking were a top priority on the agenda.

Just last month, poet Javier Silicia made international headlines when he led a peace caravan through the U.S. from Mexico with 100 people who have lost loved ones to drug violence, hoping to “implore the governments of Mexico and of the United States to accept co-responsibility for ending the disastrous drug war.”

Moderator  Bob Schieffer opened the debate with a  reminder of  the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, stating, "It is a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad." But the candidates didn't touch on rumors circulating about Fidel Castro’s health or easing travel restrictions for Cubans traveling abroad.

And, what about Venezuela?

While the possibility of a nuclear Iran was discussed, there was no mention of Iran's relationship with recently re-elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In January, Chavez hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a five-day Latin American tour. The are "strong allies united by a fierce opposition to what they view as U.S. imperialism," CNN reported.

They signed more than 270 accords related to trade deals, construction projects, car and tractor factories, energy initiatives and banking programs. Ahmadinejad also visited Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba.

What did you think of the debate? How should Latin America have been discussed?

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Down with the Cold War

    Hello!!! We are in 2012.

    The Cold War is OVER!!! We are living in a Multipolar world!! Canada, Mexico and Brazil are waiting for your call!!

    November 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. USA is needing glasses.

    Latin America´s GDP (PPP) is 6.7 trillion. I know that it´s small compared to USA´s GDP, but not if compared to the rest of the world.

    November 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jorge

    Almost every Latin American country is now enjoying a GNP growth greater than the U.S., a welcome change in trend after decades of limited class mobility, political oppression and harmful U.S. espionage and regime enabling, I don't think most of Latin America shares the same spirit of economical and political entwining with the U.S. that it once had, merely a spirit of live-and-let-live.

    October 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • hmj

      It's hard not to blame Latin America for indifference to the US. This has long been a part of the world that has been overlooked and underestimated by US policies, which is very unfortunate. Mutual respect is the cornerstone of any good trade relationship and it just has never happened between US and it's southern neighbors. I think Romney understands this and it is the first time that I can remember that a US presidential candidate has ever even addressed this issue. Establishing respectful, meaningful dialogue with Latin America could go a long way to developing a prosperous trade relation between the US and Latin America that would lead to increased prosperity to all involved.

      October 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jorge

        hmj, I don't mean to be dismissive, but how can most modern Americans of the Southern Hemisphere concieve that deeper political and economical partnerships with the U.S. will bring "...increased prosperity to ALL involved.", as you say, when that hasn't even been consistently the case with U.S. policies WITHIN it's borders for the last century?

        November 5, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. hmj

    Romney made several attempts to bring Latin America into the debate last night. He understands business, and sees a real opportunity for mutualy advantageous econmic growth from increasing our trade with Latin America. Having dealt with international business issues things such as time zones, language barriers, distance (shipping costs) do matter. These things were ignored by Obama and have been trivialized by the press coverage of the debate. This is just another example of why we need someone who has actually worked in the private sector and understands the economic advantage of such "minor" details. It was clear that trade with Latin America hadn't even dawned on Obama and therefore he didn't even know how to respond. We need someone who understands and has experience with business and economics to get our country back on solid economic ground.

    October 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Luis Lopez Serrano

    North American Leadership showed again how poor they know and valorate Latin America. No wonder why our countries are looking for a different way to grow politically, economically and socially than the tradicional "money base" north american way. Since Kennedy, no leader here seems to understand the biggest US neighbor

    October 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. procu1

    Consistent with Obama's interest in the region: first, when he mentioned friends and allies, he mentioned Europe, Asia and Africa but forgot the New World, then he could have replied or elaborated on Romney's comment on Latin America but obviously had nothing to say. If reelected, expect 4 more years of negligence towards Latin America and latinos in the US.

    October 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mjdj

    Poor USA. All the other countries need to be their problem too.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Anne

    Romney mentioned Latin America and he made the same good point as he made about Middle East and the rest of the world: economic cooperation, the rule law, fair trade. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama is following his typical 'let's be all happy together' talking point that hasn't actually worked for the past 4 years. Weak economies make everything else a fairy tale.

    October 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |