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Council on Foreign Relations, Daily Brief, USA, May 14, 2008

The recommendations from CFR’s task force emerge in the middle of a U.S. presidential cycle that has so far largely neglected Latin American policy. Discussion of U.S. policy toward Latin America on the campaign trail has been confined to the occasional remark on Cuba or Mexican immigrants. The current U.S. political mood on two subjects of resonance for the region—trade and immigration—is somewhat dim, with the failure of comprehensive immigration reform in 2007 and a free trade agreement with Colombia facing strong congressional resistance. Writing on the Colombia trade agreement, two experts opine in the Latin Business Chronicle that, “In 2008, voters may rightfully begin to ask who lost an entire region. In this case, it will be ‘Who lost Latin America?’” Yet Washington Post columnist Marcela Sanchez argues that if the United States manages to address its domestic challenges, “few regions stand to benefit as much as Latin America.” And experts and policymakers are looking to the election of a new president as an opportunity to change course in the region. CFR Fellow Shannon O'Neil says the change of administration offers a “big opportunity for recalibration.”


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