Home / International / Opinion Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Bush Starts 5-Nation Tour to Regain 'Lost' Latin America
Adjust font size:

US President George W. Bush visits Latin America this week to try to improve his reputation and influence in a region where anti-American voices like Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez are on the rise.

Bush is expected to cozy up to moderate leftists like Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, hoping to woo him with a much-touted plan to cooperate on the production of biofuels like ethanol.

"This is basically an effort to show that the US remains relevant in the region," said Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank in Washington.

"It's a trip to demonstrate that it retains good relationships, particularly with Brazil and Mexico, that it's committed to Colombia, and that it's not worried about left-wing governments."

Bush will kick off his tour on Friday in Brazil. He will then travel to Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico on the six-day trip, his longest ever to the region.

Chavez, the fiery Venezuelan president who is challenging US influence in Latin America, plans to protest Bush's presence in the region by leading a rally in Argentina on Friday when his nemesis will be in neighboring Uruguay.

It is no coincidence that Bush's tour starts in Brazil, a heavyweight with the clout to contain Chavez. Though Bush and Lula come from opposing sides of the left-right divide, they are folksy leaders with a good rapport.

Other important stops will be Colombia and Mexico, two close US allies. In Bogota, Bush is expected to reaffirm his support for President Alvaro Uribe, who is fighting a decades-old insurgency and is a partner in the war on drugs.

The visit to Mexico will be Bush's first since President Felipe Calderon took office in December. Analysts expect key bilateral issues like drugs and immigration to be high on the agenda.

In Sao Paulo, officials say Bush and Lula will launch a biofuels initiative aimed at helping Brazil export its ethanol technology to the region. Washington hopes it will help the United States reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil.

Still, some question if Bush's ethanol diplomacy is enough to counter the checkbook diplomacy of Chavez, who has been handing out petrodollars to like-minded leaders in the region.

Bush, who vowed in 2000 to make Latin America a "fundamental commitment" of his presidency, is now being criticized by Democrats for having "lost" Latin America.

On Bush's watch, Venezuela swung to the left and Chavez-backed candidates won office in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. The war in Iraq is also very unpopular across much of Latin America.

(China Daily via agencies March 7, 2007)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Bush Tries to Mend Ties with Latin America
- Mexico Holds out Possibility of Taking US Border Fencing Plan to UN
- US Report: Venezuela 'Potential Hub of Terrorism' in America
- Bush Signs Bill to Construct Fence on US-Mexico Border
- US Seeks Better Ties with Chavez Gov't
- In Search of US Strategic Frontline
- Ortega Made to Walk a Tight Rope Between Bush and Chavez
- Anti-US Allies Strengthen Ties
Most Viewed >>
> Korean Nuclear Talks
> Reconstruction of Iraq
> Middle East Peace Process
> Iran Nuclear Issue
> 6th SCO Summit Meeting
- China Development Gateway
- Foreign Ministry
- Network of East Asian Think-Tanks
- China-EU Association
- China-Africa Business Council
- China Foreign Affairs University
- University of International Relations
- Institute of World Economics & Politics
- Institute of Russian, East European & Central Asian Studies
- Institute of West Asian & African Studies
- Institute of Latin American Studies
- Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies
- Institute of Japanese Studies