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The Americas Reunited

As the world diligently works to assist the people of Japan, President Obama is faced with the daunting task of addressing a multitude of challenges, not the least of which is renewing our commitment to the Japanese people. But in the midst of addressing this catastrophe, he must continue to resolve economic challenges at home, and simultaneously enhance our relationship with strategic partners around the world. It precisely is in that spirit of cooperation and innovation that the president is set to embark on his first official visit to Latin America -- and the urgency couldn't be more prudent.

Beginning this weekend, President Obama will first spend two days in the nation of Brazil, where he'll meet with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, as well as prominent business leaders. According to President Obama himself, Brazil imports more goods and services from the United States than any other nation, and in 2010 alone, our exports to the South American nation grew by more than 30%, supporting more than 250,000 jobs here at home. As demand continues to rise in Brazil, so does the opportunity for Americans to return to doing what we do best -- creating and building vital goods and services.

Arguably Latin America's largest economy, Brazil holds the unique stature of hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. As a thriving nation on a multitude of levels, Brazil's unique relationship with the United States cannot be underscored, and nor can our commitment to maintaining this vital partnership. On several political fronts, President Rousseff has aligned herself with U.S. interests, and expressed her support for President Obama's endeavors. And as one of the few countries with a female head of state, Brazil serves as a shining example of a modern, progressive nation.

Following his visit to Brazil, President Obama is scheduled to travel to Chile and then El Salvador. After signing a free trade agreement with Chile in 2003, the U.S. maintains one of its closest economic relationships with the South American country. At a time when markets are working to sustain growth and opportunity, a trip to Chile will solidify our commitment to spurring jobs both here at home and abroad.

And last, but by no means the least, the president will make a visit to El Salvador -- another important ally in both the political and economic realms. Meeting with Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes and other business leaders, President Obama plans to create new mechanisms for increased trade opportunities and mutually beneficial financial prospects. And in addition to our shared values, El Salvador is also perhaps the strongest partner we have in combating an alarming rise in violence in Central America that seriously impacts the entire hemisphere and beyond.

When President Obama was sworn into office in 2009, he willfully accepted the responsibility of not only leading the nation towards a new way forward, but also of rectifying our severely damaged image and relationship with the rest of the world. Living up to his promise, the president is now set to strengthen our commitment with one of the most vital regions -- Latin America. As he addresses the economy, trade and energy, our commander-in-chief will do what he does best -- lead the way forward.