President Bush embarked last week on a six day, five-country tour of Latin America. The Center for American Progress’ Americas Project Director Daniel Restrepo released a report last week on the trip, “Lost in the Americas: Bush’s Strategy-Free Trip to Latin America,” and has followed it up with a series of columns covering each stop on the trip. Restrepo highlights the damage the Bush administration has done to U.S. relations with its neighbors to the south through six years of neglect and mismanagement:
5: Number of countries Bush is visiting in Latin America: Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico.
20.3: Millions of these countries’ citizens who reside in the United States.
6.8: Percent of the U.S. population that those 20.3 million people represent.
4: Number of these countries that depend on the United States as their principal source of imported goods.
43.4: Percent of people in these countries who, on average, live below the poverty line.
34: Percent of Uruguayans surveyed in 2006 who believed that someone who was born poor could end up becoming rich.
400: Number of people who die each year attempting unauthorized crossings of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Mexican officials.
0: The amount of energy Brazil imports. Brazil achieved energy independence in 2006 based on domestic oil drilling and ethanol production.
40: Percent share of ethanol that has replaced Brazil’s non-diesel gasoline consumption.
54: Cent-per-gallon tariff that is levied on Brazilian ethanol imported into the United States.
The United States needs to reorient its policy toward the Americas to adequately reflect the interconnections that define the region today. Pressing issues requiring dialogue and cooperation between governments of the north and south include alleviating poverty in Latin America, reforming immigration policies, curbing the drug trade, and furthering the adoption of alternative fuels. There is too much at stake going forward for U.S. policy toward the Americas to remain the creature of neglect and haphazard crisis management that it has been for the past six years.
For more information on the president’s trip to Latin America, please see: