Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | November 15, 2012

Obama and Latin America: Immigration and Drugs

Obama has cut assistance to Latin America by 9 percent for 2013.

But no deep changes are expected in U.S.-Latin America relations in the next four years.

The U.S. is Latin America’s most important trading partner. The U.S. has already signed free trade agreements with Colombia, Mexico, Central America, Panama, Peru and Chile — and there is an expectation to add Brazil to the list.

However, drugs and immigration are on the watch list.

1) Immigration.

President Obama achieved a high vote from the Latino Community. In turn, Latinos expect the favor to be returned.

Peter Hakim, a senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, wrote, “It was mainly Republicans who blocked previous immigration initiatives, including the comprehensive reform package promoted by George Bush in 2007. Many of them will resist changes again, but there are Republicans who understand that their party may soon become irrelevant unless they take the Latino and black constituencies more seriously. They, after all, now represent 25 percent or more of voters, a number that is growing steadily.”

President Obama backed the Dream Act, which grants undocumented immigrant students the chance to remain in the U.S. to normalize their status. However, the Dream Act legislation has not yet passed.

Take note: more undocumented immigrants were deported in President Obama’s first term than under any other president since the 1950s.

2) Drugs:

The states of Washington and Colorado approved legislation for the recreational use of marijuana. The move fills the coffers of foreign cartels.

Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala have expressed interest in discussing the world-wide legalization of drugs. However, Mexico’s president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto opposes drug legalization.

Mexico asks the U.S. to help curb the flow of illegal arms into Mexico, which feeds the cartel wars. Obama faced much opposition to prolong a law, which expired in 2004, which prohibits the sell of semi-automatic arms and assault rifles. The U.S. funds given to Mexico equal a mere 13 percent of Mexico’s entire security budget for 2012The Merida Initiative seems simply a political gesture to accept partial responsibility for drug consumption in the U.S.

Recommended:

What Obama’s second term could mean for Latin America.

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