11/17/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Forrest Hylton is the author of Evil Hour in Colombia (Verso, 2006), and with Sinclair Thomson, co-author of Revolutionary Horizons: Past and Present in Bolivian Politics (Verso, 2007). In this interview with The Real News Network, Hylton says that neither McCain nor Obama really know what 's happening in South America.

In the third and last presidential debate Senator John McCain defended a free trade agreement between Colombia and the US as a "no brainer" and once again derided Senator Obama for never having traveled south of the border. It was evident that "Obama clearly was much better informed than McCain about the actual situation on the ground in Columbia" says Forrest Hylton, an expert on Colombia and Bolivia but thinks the presidential debates are in "utter relation to actual developments in the world".

In a continued effort by Columbian paramilitary forces to quell indigenous protest "13 or 14 indigenous leaders have been assassinated on the ground in the last two weeks." Hylton says "US money and aid to Columbia is what has allowed the paramilitaries to really take the over the country and to continue their assaults on the trade union and the indigenous rights movement."

The candidates continue to demonize South America as a "sort of vaguely threatening enemy [group] of nations" according to Hylton, who sees the solution "to repair the damage between US and Venezuelan relations [through] dialogue and negotiations.....[as] a very straight forward and simple thing to do."

For more stories with Pepe Escobar and Forrest Hylton watch The Real News Network.