The change promised by the incoming Obama administration has raised hopes not just in the United States but throughout the world. In Latin America, the winds of change have been blowing for several years with electoral victories by progressive candidates across South America.
Central America is much more conservative, but even there hopes for change are high. In Costa Rica, a national survey1 conducted by the University of Costa Rica in December revealed that 62.5% of Costa Ricans believe that relations with the U.S. will improve under an Obama presidency.
An astounding 76.5% said that with an Obama administration in Washington it would be a positive move to renegotiate the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
This comes after the current Costa Rican government of President Oscar Arias has been saying for the past two years that renegotiation of CAFTA is impossible. CAFTA was narrowly approved in a national referendum two years ago after the Bush White House threatened to withdraw Caribbean Initiative trade preferences if Costa Ricans voted "NO". (In fact, the executive branch has no authority to do this.) A reluctant Costa Rican parliament passed the necessary law changes to implement CAFTA in late December. The changes included the unpopular privatization of various sectors of the economy.
During the campaign, Obama promised to address demands of workers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA. Workers in Costa Rica hope that Obama includes CAFTA as well.
1Universidad De Costa Rica, Centro De Investigación y Estudios Políticos "José María Castro Madriz": Informe Del Sondeo De Opinión Sobre Crucitas, La Crisis Nacional, Obama Y La Renegación Del TLC, Diciembre De 2008. Margin of error +/- 3%.