If we want to build a Trans-Atlantic power base, we have to seek interlocutors who speak the language of democratic reasonableness, rather than radical or Messianic ideologies which distort people's view of reality.
Most commentators were quite surprised that America's southern neighbor and economic partner did not play a greater role to the 2012 candidates' future plans. It can be explained by both the nature of the debate and the declining role of the United States in the region.
Latin America presents enormous opportunities for the U.S. in terms of economic and political cooperation, but we continue to squander these opportunities as we squabble among ourselves over issues like immigration and drug policies.
The pope's visit to Mexico and Cuba beginning Friday will kick off a period of intensive focus on Latin America. As the spotlight shines on the region, it will illuminate both the dramatic progress that has been made, as well as the progress that remains to be made.
Mexico will elect a new president in 2012. Facing mounting pressure to change course, Calderon's successor may choose scale back the anti-drug offensive return the country to its pre-2006 days. But that would be a mistake.
The past ten years in Latin America have seen a historic shift to the left in government power and the streets. The US needs to learn from these examples if we are to break out of our stagnant political culture.
That old metaphor -- Latin America as the U.S.'s backyard -- is indicative of the American habit of viewing the region solely in terms of problems to be solved. What a shame: There is so much opportunity to be found in Latin America.
Is Hugo Chávez really the anti-American pariah we've read about for years? Is he really all that different from the other democratic, left-of-center leaders who now govern most of the region? I don't believe so.