US president Barack Obama has began moving in several fronts to repair strained US relations with Latin America

US president Barack Obama has began moving in several fronts to repair strained US relations with Latin America
He is also sending Vice President Biden and Hillary Clinton. Obama strategy is to integrate the world by TRADING , yes what saved in the ancient times in Medieval Times, Trading created the most prosperous and development from the dark ages to the Renaissance as empower a new class Buguesie
At a State Department briefing Assistant Secretary of State Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon cast the uncoming hemishphere summit in Trinidad Tobago which Mr Obama will attend as an opportunity for a fresh start in relations based on what he termed a sprit of engagement and constructive dialogue

It is very sad that when people referred to Latin America think about Cuba , Mexico or Venezuela, it shows how far are from the reality .There are many important topics in other countries that means development , solutions and innovation.

Cartel drugs have been existed for decades , it is not a new , meanwhile there are corruption not only in Mexico in all the countries , in latinoamerica, in United States ,Canada , Europe , China and the list goes on , it is incredible sometimes the news work so against to the reality as Colombia Cartels , can give a look who are able to produce drugs , and who really buy them , this is annoying to blame a country when they are all involved . the solution is to work on the corrupted goverments and business people , who are very powerful to touch them , that is why things happens .

Other point before explaining the maginitude of this Meeting is that Venezuela , is other problem, we consider them , we have business relations but we know very well how unfair is to listen Mr Chavez , it is a shame for many , but he only can talk talk talk , cause his country is hungry , they need the basic needs , meanwhile he plays with the power of petroleum , but this doesnt mean nothing for the people , a country without resources , for food for basic need is poor in spite has the oil of the world , but also it is not true , so we wish to not addressed Chavez symbol of Latinoamerica , cause it is not true , he should do a good work , behave with Obama administration cause he would be isolated after all and he depends on the rest of Latinoamerica more than anyone.
Bolivia, is other issue , but only the human rights and other international organisms can work it out and also Brazil ,Argentina, Chile , could stop his demands too unfair , like living in a colonizlism system , his President Hugo Morales , is an indian president who he thinks he is fighting for the rights of indian and poor people , wrong , he wants to t ake the money of rich people to give to the poor , this is what dictators does in one way or other, he must make his people work , with a dignify life , there are natural resources in Bolivia for doing this , but it is better revolution , complaining ,than work than being serious and live in peace ,
Brazil is the leader of latinoamerica for many reasons we will talk apart , it means history too , but Brazil alone cant leader by itself .The alliances are the strategy , that is why Mercosur that saved us from the bad policy of last administration of George W Bush and no to Nafta , No to TLC . Brazil ,Chile , Argentina are the strongest one for going ahead with a serious agenda
We dont say all is a paradise , but we remark that attitude of Mr Obama is the right one and as he could be more involved in Latinoamerica he will discover the big potential that will save the economy of the continent as we did with Europe once.
Other remarkable point , is as often said like Latinamerica is a Left Region , this is a huge mistake, we are against to any militar , paramilitar power , that means the right , cause we suffered all the consecquences that no other did , Chavez could be a lefty and Castro as we know is communist, but it expired hopefully in the real world , so we believe in the central power and the DEMOCRACY , that too much blood we had to lose for keeping and saving this .

The list of speakers at the event include Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Patrick Manning; OAS Secretary General Jos' Miguel Insulza; U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Sol's; President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Luis Alberto Moreno; UN Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) Alicia B'rcena; President of the Corporation Andina de Fomento (CAF) Enrique Garc'a, and recognized world experts in current topics such as: infrastructure, energy, and communication and information technologies. .

When President Obama goes south of the border this week, he has a unique opportunity to change the course of Latin American history. First in Mexico and then in Trinidad and Tobago, where he is participating in the Summit of the Americas with 33 other leaders this weekend, Obama undoubtedly will begin a new chapter in the history of U.S. relations with Latin America and the English-speaking Caribbean.
After announcing an executive order lifting U.S. travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans who want to visit or send remittances to their relatives back on the Caribbean island, two White House spokesmen -- in English and Spanish insisted Monday that the Obama administration now expects the Cuban government to make concessions that would lead to freedom and democracy for the Cuban people.
This is crucial, and it means that President Obama may be on the right track. It's not Washington that has to change. Obama is more popular at home and in Latin America than his immediate predecessor, but he'll face a host of challenges that Presidents Clinton and Bush -- whose agenda at the summits focused mostly on expanding free trade -- did not. Coverage of this year's summit, which is officially scheduled to focus on energy and the economy, is likely to be dominated by the only Latin American nation not represented: Cuba. Regional leaders, including Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, have raised calls in recent weeks for the U.S. to begin normalizing its relations with Cuba, encouraged by the administration's willingness to loosen restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban-Americans.
Their hopes will clash, however, with those of anti-Castro Cuban-Americans, whose intensity has mellowed somewhat in recent years but who still wield considerable sway.
During the debate over the economic stimulus bill in March, for example, Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., withheld their support until receiving personal assurances from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that a provision liberalizing agricultural shipments to Cuba would not be enforced."The United States is not going to cave in to pressure on the embargo.
" Leiva added that the debate over the embargo "is not for the president and his advisers, it's for the American people." "He can't simply say we're not going to do anything, and at the same time he can't announce something there that hasn't been vetted here and hasn't been discussed with Cuban-Americans here," said Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue. "" That might explain in part why U.S. summit adviser Jeffrey Davidow downplayed the Cuba issue at a Council on Foreign Relations event last week, saying the U.S. didn't want to be "distracted" from the meeting's other goals.
Why the administration chose this week to fulfill a campaign promise and roll back Bush-era restrictions on travel and communication with Cuba. At least some of the region's leaders will arrive in Port of Spain hoping to push Obama further.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been particularly outspoken on the subject and is hosting an alternative summit this week in Caracas with other Latin American heads of state, in part to express solidarity with the Castro regime. Even if they fail to provoke further concessions for the island nation -- which seems likely -- Obama will face a chorus of populist anti-American leaders, something his predecessors never had to deal with.

President Obama will have to ensure the summit is not consumed by these issues if any consensus is to be made on how to confront the key issues slated for discussion--energy security and environmental sustainability. Another challenge looming for the administration as it approaches the summit are U.S. relations with several countries that have adopted an increasingly confrontational attitude toward the United States
three of these countries have expelled top U.S. diplomats in the past year. Bolivian President Evo Morales and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez threw out U.S. ambassadors assigned to both countries, and Ecuador's President Rafael Correa expelled two top U.S. embassy officials from Quito. Morales has also barred numerous U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Agency for International Development officials from operating in Bolivia's territory, claiming that the United States was using these agencies to conspire with Morales' political opposition. Because the summit will mark the first time President Obama meets with these leaders, many will be looking to see if anything can be intimated from gestures, conversations, or statements made by either side to suggest heightened tensions.
Regardless of any political or ideological differences the U.S. government may have with Presidents Chávez, Morales, Correa, and Nicaragua's leftist President Daniel Ortega, it is important that the Obama administration not allow the summit to focus on them.

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has never been confused for a hotbed of international diplomacy -- the weather is hot, yes, but the diplomacy, not so much. As President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban and the rest of the hemisphere's leaders get ready for this year's Summit of the Americas, more than a few staffers, diplomats and journalists will be pulling out their atlases. One thing sure they'll find in Trinidad is warm hospitality and, if they step away from the formal events, a good lime (more on that later).

They will also find a small country facing many of the difficult issues that the Obama administration is currently trying to tackle. Winning the Summit was a major coup for T&T, and the government has been preparing to host it for several years, using its oil and natural gas income to pay for the construction of hotels, conference buildings, and government ministries. In the grand tradition of papering over problems, it has also found a few T&T dollars to build a wall along the highway from the airport to downtown Port of Spain to hide one of the city's worst slums (in fairness, this "safety wall" has apparently been in the works for several years, and its stated purpose is to prevent residents from entering this dangerous stretch of roadway on foot).

While T&T has had a strong economy the last several years due to its energy wealth, the social and economic gap between rich and poor has only widened, thus the need to hide this poverty from President Obama and the rest of the heads of state.
Establishing exactly what that means and how the Obama administration intends to pursue the partnership is something the president should avidly pursue at the summit. Brazil's cooperation in this energy partnership is paramount.

Brazil has voiced some initial skepticism, which is why President Obama's team must convince Brazil and the countries of the Americas that the United States is serious about tackling climate change domestically and in cooperation with the international community--removing tariffs on Brazilian ethanol entering the United States would be a good place to start--and establish why his "Energy Partnership for the Americas" is in the interest of countries throughout the hemisphere. A plethora of other issues connect the United States to its hemispheric neighbors, such as immigration, financial flows, trade, and security.

The election of President Barack Obama has raised expectations of a sea change in American policy from that of the Bush era. There are those who wonder whether Obama's first hemispheric summit might be marked by a "grand gesture" to symbolize that change.
That gesture might be to end the traditional U.S. veto of Cuban membership in the Organization of American States (OAS), long overdue. Or it might involve a rapprochement with those populist regimes, anathematized by the Bush administration, but that command the support of a majority of their citizens. While it is natural that much of the attention will be on the new U.S. president and the preponderant influence of the country he leads, the summit also presents an opportunity for Canada to make its mark. Before we attempt to answer that question, let's review our recent policies in the Americas against the background of the changes underway in the hemisphere to see how they fit. Canada recently raised the profile of the Americas among its foreign policy priorities.
To date, it has supported that commitment with a prime ministerial visit in 2007 and renewed enthusiasm for NAFTA-style trade agreements, like those recently signed with Peru and Colombia. In doing so, it has chosen to ignore the growing opposition to such agreements, which are rightly seen in the South as primarily a vehicle for protecting the interests of investors at the expense of the democratic rights of citizens.

"Haiti has to be one of the bigger discussions when the Americas come together for a summit," Meek said. "It's the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere." Hailing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's planned stop in Port-au-Prince before she continues on to Trinidad, Meek said the secretary's visit shows that "the U.S. will not only continue to take the lead as relates to Haitian assistance, but also encourage the Americas to play a very strong role in helping Haiti recover." "Obviously, the Obama administration has its plate full," said Rep. Alcee Hastings, another South Florida Democrat who represents a large number of Haitian-Americans. "But while its plate is full, I'm asking them to let some crumbs drop off of the plate, and grant temporary protected status to Haitians." For all the domestic hurdles Obama will have to negotiate, he'll at least be relatively safe on one point: free trade. Past summits focused on establishing a Free Trade Area of the Americas, but those dreams are largely acknowledged to have died in Mar Del Plata.

The administration has signaled its intention to move forward with negotiations on a free trade deal with Colombia that major unions have opposed, but Obama seems unlikely to have to move beyond indicating his support in the abstract. "In terms of trade generally, the president has made it clear -- and clearly it's policy to avoid protectionism," Davidow said in a conference call with reporters this week. "That's been off the agenda," said Hakim.

President Barack Obama's arrival at the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago later this week will be his first opportunity to meet and address 33 other heads of state from the Americas. This is an important moment for the president to set the tone of his administration's policy toward the region, as well as reengage with a region that was largely missing from the Bush administration's foreign policy radar screen.

When President Bush flew to Mar Del Plata, a resort town on the Argentine coast, for the Summit of the Americas in 2005, he was met with violent protests, fire bombings in the streets and an anti-American rally some 25,000 strong. After two days of disastrous negotiations, he departed empty-handed.
While President Obama is likely to get a sunnier reception when he travels to Trinidad and Tobago this week for the fifth summit meeting, it could be his homecoming he needs to worry about. The opening up of the floor to issues such as violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and relations with Cuba means Obama will have to walk the line between Latin America's heightened expectations and domestic political considerations.
Professor Pinto is available to comment on the agenda for President Obama's meeting this week with Latin American leaders at the Summit of the Americas ( to be held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on April 17-19 ).

Port-of-Spain, April 15 (IANS) Trinidad and Tobago is agog as it hosts the Fifth Summit of the Americas April 17-19 that will bring together 34 leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, in this tiny oil-rich nation. Obama, , will be making his first visit to the Caribbean since he became president.
President Daniel Ortega and the other presidents of the Central American Integration System (SICA) will finally have a chance for a sit-down meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on April 19 in Trinidad, immediately following the Fifth Summit of the Americas, Nicaragua's first lady Rosario Murillo said Tuesday afternoon in a press release.

The Costa Rican government has confirmed President Oscar Arias on Friday will attend the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, an event the government has been billing as the first opportunity for Arias to finally come face to face with U.S. President Barack Obama.

P resident Barack Obama may or may not announce something new in U.S. Cuba policy at the Fifth Summit of the Americas (April 14-19 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago). He may or may not even take part in any discussion of Cuba, which is bound to take place whether he likes it or not.

Remind friends and warn Latin Americas populists that U.S. regional security interests require mutual security, preserving a nuclear weapons-free hemisphere, ending arms buildups, and keeping international terrorism and nations that sponsor it out of the hemisphere. By following these steps, President Obama will ensure that the Fifth Summit of the Americas makes considerable progress toward securing a more secure, stable, and prosperous Western Hemisphere.
President Obama enters the summit with several policy challenges and opportunities on the horizon. Capitalizing on the opportunities while avoiding potential pitfalls will be the main task for him and his Latin America policy team.
Managing that balancing act will require that he and his team keep the focus of the summit on its stated purpose this year--energy security and environmental sustainability--but remain open to substantive policy discussions on other issues so long as these other topics are not used by knee-jerk critics of the United States to score political points at the expense of real progress.
This may not be easy to do.

Brazil is presently the world's major producer of ethanol. It could also become a major petroleum exporter. It might even soon surpass the United States in production of motor cars. It is one of only seven countries in the world self-sufficient in food production.
What President Obama will hear in Port of Spain, if he chooses to listen, is that the people of Latin America and the Caribbean want to share American dreams but not American nightmares. They want to make their own decisions as any sovereign state should do. They prefer dialogue and cooperation to unilateral declarations and confrontations.

Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, citizens have mobilized for justice and a new approach to hemispheric co-operation and integration--an approach that will address the gross inequities that continue to be the unfortunate reality of the Americas. That mobilization has led to the rise of progressive governments in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and despite its shortcomings, Venezuela. These governments, representing more than 50 per cent of the region's peoples, are determined to address a triple crisis--of finance, of food, and of climate--in a way that does not further exacerbate inequality or undermine human rights. Given this context, the approaches of Canada and the United States to the hemisphere stand at a crossroads. We can either join the diverse efforts of women's organizations, trade unions, campesinos, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants in their efforts to exercise their social, economic and political rights, or we can opt to impede what is essentially a struggle for human rights, democracy and broad-based development.
People from the USA have a notorious penchant for characterising Latin America and the Caribbean in frozen, racist, and non-nuanced ways. To them the region is destined to eternal subordination to the United States and confined forever to political and economic underdevelopment.

Neither Harrison nor Landes bothered to read the extraordinary rich and readily available publications on the changing state of Latin America over the past 50 years. Had they done so they would have noted - provided they could rid themselves of their blinders - that over the past few decades political leaders across Latin America and the Caribbean were adopting a variety of policies that positioned their region to survive the present global recession much better than the much-touted superior example of the United States.

No Latin American or Caribbean country experienced the sort of astronomical mortgage meltdown and banking disasters experienced by the U.S., UK or Iceland. Latin America and Caribbean leaders observed that the United States often enunciated general policies from which they excluded themselves. The U.S. declared for free trade and open markets while protecting their own producers with tariffs and unfair subsidies.They refused to open U.S. highways to Mexican trucks carrying Mexican produce to U.S. markets in violation of NAFTA as well as their own laws
Following the Biden meeting in San José, Sandinista economist and former Nicaraguan Minister of Foreign Trade Alejandro Martínez Cuenca said the United States had missed an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a new era of relations with Central America by "prioritizing personal relations with Arias over respect for Central America's institutional order." Martínez stressed the need for a new chapter in U.S.-Central American relations based on 'mutual respect and cooperation.' But he stressed that it is important for diplomacy to be done properly and through formal channels, which in the case of Central America means going through SICA. Emilio Alvarez, former Foreign Minister of Nicaragua, says another reason Ortega snubbed the Costa Rica meeting was because of his ego. 'He likes to think he is a big international leader,' Alvarez said.

The Obama administration's nod to Ortega and SICA yesterday could serve to repair the Nicaraguan leader's damaged ego and reinforce his claims to a leadership role in Central America. Ortega said last month that he thinks the United States should give Central America its own bailout plan. In past weeks, Ortega has also repeated his call for the United States to end the embargo on Cuba. It remains to be seen if those are the issues he will push in the SICA meeting with Obama, and what the other Central American leaders will have to say about the agenda that's presented
The Santa Fe Document failed to consider the possibility that free traders were not giving up U.S. sovereignty but rather the sovereignty of others and that U.S. international strategies would be boosted into orbit beyond constitutional reach where a military controlled by a U.S. commander-in-chief could preserve economic dominance continent-wide. The Santa Fe Document was more honest about the military component of free trade than were U.S. trade representatives with their clichés about common aims, values and destinies of Canada, Mexico and the United States under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The SPP's website lists extensive progress on agreements on border, traveler and cargo security, bioprotection, cross-border information and intelligence sharing and energy production to supply the U.S. market.
The SPP gave rise to conspiracy theories that Canada, Mexico and the United States were going to build a NAFTA super highway from the Mexican port of Lazaro Cardenas to Toronto to truck cheap goods from China into the United States and to haul away its sovereignty on the way out. The State Department's description of SPP does not mention a highway but refers to protecting the economic spaces of the NAFTA states, not at their national borders but at continental boundaries.

To understand the purpose of SPP requires that out-of-date conservatives must put aside their Cold War texts and understand that U.S. policymakers are trying to address the dangers to the United States from democratic populism and regional cooperation developing in Latin American and the Caribbean. This is the American phobia. Secretary Shannon said, " how countries in the region address poverty, how they address inequality, and how they address social exclusion affects the well being of the United States and the well being of U.S. citizens. This view gives context to U.S. hostility to the way Morales and Chavez have addressed their countries' social and economic problems.

At the moment, the Americas, the countries of the Americas, the United States included, face three baskets of shared challenges.'' One. is the economic crisis and how do we rekindle economic growth and ensure that that growth is equitable economic growth; that the -- that no segments of society are left behind as the hemisphere recovers from the current economic crisis. '' The second is the challenges of energy, our energy and climate future, and ensuring that we're moving to -- moving forward in partnerships to ensure our energy security and the climate future and ensuring that those two do not work in conflict with one another. '' And third is on the question of public safety.'' If you ask -- if you conduct polls -- and people have -- the challenges, the principal challenge facing people in their daily lives throughout the Western Hemisphere, they will tell you it is the economy and it is public safety. '' And the President believes that we can at this summit -- looking forward and in a pragmatic way of how can we confront these challenges that we face together, how can we form dynamic partnerships with countries in the hemisphere who are willing to work with the United States and willing to work with one another, to come up with concrete proposals, to share ideas, to share practices that have worked in countries, understanding that there are differences from one place to the next, but creating the kind of flexible responses, not a one-size-fits-all solution, that can address these challenges that the hemisphere as a whole faces. ''.

The Summit from April 17-19 2009 is being held under the theme 'Securing Our Citizens' Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability'. The Summit of the Americas brings together 34 Hemispheric Heads of State and Government to exchange ideas and opinions on the main political, economic, social and security challenges facing the Hemisphere and to develop strategies and solutions to collectively address these challenges.

There will be the distinction of having''the first two women Presidents of Latin America-Chile's Michelle Bachelet and Argentina's Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, both, like Morales, viewed ideologically as left or left-of-centre.'' For domestic political reasons, it is to be expected that Prime Minister Manning will''keep far away from that "Peoples' Summit, the moreso in view''of the nature of some of the activities planned and''known disagreements between his administration and the more militant representatives of trade unions and''other civil society organisations.
'' It would, however, be quite surprising that if ALL of''the visiting''leaders''or heads of delegations from the 33 other states to the official Fifth Summit of the Americas fail to show''up-or alternatively be represented-at the "Peoples' Summit". The moreso,''given their''''recurring claims to commitment to work in collaboration with civil society and established institutions for securing "a better future" and the "human prosperity" they so often speak of in their respective countries and various regional/international fora.

With regard to the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, there will be no surprises because he has preempted them with the executive orders of a few hours ago eliminating restrictions on trips by Cuban-Americans to Cuba and currency remittances and packages sent to their families still in the island. In case of any question made about Cuba outside the agenda, he will use these explanations to be considered as the American president who is opening channels for future engagement between Washington and Havana.

The meeting's narrative also includes President Barack Obama's first opportunity to redefine U.S.-Latin American relations, which took a backseat under former President George W. Bush. "The perception coming up from the South that in recent years, the United States has turned its attention elsewhere, has neglected its relationships in this part of the world," Jeffrey Davidow, Obama's principal adviser for the summit, told reporters this week. "I think this summit will give him the opportunity to meet with all the heads of state, listen to them, exchange views, and come away with new ideas."

A Head of State like Barack Obama, the first black man to sit in the White House as President, is a once in a lifetime historical event. Success of this summit of 34 nations of the Americas-15 of them from our own Caribbean Community-cannot and should not be measured by the popularity, charisma and eloquence of the 44th President of the USA. Rather by the creative imagination and commitment he brings to help enable 33 leaders of the other participating nations make a reality''of''already voiced anxieties for transforming''political, cultural'' and economic''developments in this hemisphere-away''from''traditional dependence and dominance of U.S. policies and programmes.

Last month, Jose Miguel Insulza, the Chilean secretary general of the OAS, called on the body to reinstate Cuba, the only Latin American or Caribbean nation excluded from the 34-member group. For now, Obama might already have gone as far as he is willing to go with Cuba policy. He lifted all restrictions of travel and remittances to the island by Cuban-Americans with family still there, a first since 1982. The decision further distanced him from Bush, who tightened the embargo, limited the amount of money Cuban-Americans could send their relatives and curtailed visits home by Cuban-Americans. While reintegrating Cuba is symbolically important to U.S.-Latin American relations, Shifter told World Politics Review he hopes leaders would move beyond the issue, because "whatever happens there will not change the situation of most Latin Americans." Obama's public relations push starts Thursday, when he travels to Mexico City to show support and "admiration" for President Felipe Calderon's anti-cartel efforts. 'In Europe, President Obama addressed the issue of a new world, reflected in the fact that the Group of 20 industrial and developing nations is gaining momentum. He should expand his idea of redefining the role of the U.S. with an emphasis on the idea of an interdependent world. This would mean a redefinition of U.S. relations with Mexico and Latin America, particularly Brazil.

"But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious." If Obama recognizes that in the past, our government has "shown arrogance and been dismissive" toward Latin America while firmly explaining that there is no need for insidious anti-Americanism, he will disarm our worst critics and go a long way toward changing the course of U.S. relations with our hemispheric neighbors. Unlike the liberal Latin American demagogues who use fear and repression to stay in power, Obama is a liberal leader who doesn't need to violate his people's civil and human rights.Meeting through Sunday in Port of Spain, leaders are expected to discuss the global economic crisis, poverty, job creation, the environment and sustainable development, among other topics, according to a Casa Presidencial press release issued Tuesday. Obama likely will also face a barrage of criticism over U.S. policy toward Latin America following a legacy left here by his disliked predecessor, George W. Bush. Latin American leaders have been calling on Obama to live up to his drumbeat for change.

In recent years, U.S. foreign policy has relegated the Americas to the background in order to deal with pressures from the Middle East and the war on terror. When looking south, beyond Mexico, the U.S. was singularly focused on its priorities of free trade and regional security, setting aside the concerns of Latin American nations
By 2020, Latin America's nuclear power output will increase by almost 84 percent. Countries as diverse in their energy needs and capabilities as the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile and Uruguay are all contemplating ramping up or developing nuclear power. That makes a regional policy initiative to bring this topic into the hemisphere's energy security discussion both timely and essential
] Today millions of citizens in the hemisphere live in varying states of fear: What Moises Naim of Foreign Policy recently referred to as a "global crime pandemic" grips the region. Homicide rates in the Western Hemisphere remain alarmingly high, making the Caribbean and Latin America among the most violence-prone societies in the world. The poor are frequently victimized or terrorized while the prosperous live in a state of continuous fear, relying on private security, armored vehicles, and fortified residences as their first and sometimes only line of defense.

. "Human rights cannot be considered an optional extra; they must be at the heart of all deliberations and commitments arising from this summit", said Lee. "The rights of people living in slums, of indigenous peoples facing dislocation from their land, and of people caught up in abusive public security laws must be unequivocally recognized and firmly protected. Human rights provide the blueprint for the'secure future' the summit declaration envisions for citizens of the Americas." Amnesty International has mobilized its worldwide activists to urgently call on leaders meeting in Trinidad Tobago to put human rights at the core of policies on trade and investment and other issues.

The expectations of Obama are understandably high. They are also reflective of what the Americas ask of Canada--support for an agenda that includes putting human rights first, including labour rights and gender equality, decent work, social justice and social security for all, fair trade, foreign investment that respects national and sub-regional policies for development, and a commitment to protect the environment. In this rapidly changing context, then, perhaps the single most important "grand gesture" Prime Minister Harper could make at the upcoming summit, to signal that Canada too wants to break with its past, is to assert that we will henceforth require all trade and investment agreements in the hemisphere to pass a human rights impact assessment before proceeding. This would send a message to all those fighting to establish democratic development across the Americas that Canada is unequivocally on board.

On the eve of the Summit of the Americas, the coca and cocaine trade continues to flourish. Connections between terrorism and cocaine production are exploited by both homegrown terrorists and by international terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. The other aspect of security President Obama needs to address with his fellow leaders is the overall international security picture] As President Obama said in a campaign speech in Miami in May of 2008, "what is good for the people of the Americas is good for the United States." His chief mission when he arrives at the summit will be to listen to what the hemisphere believes is good for its people and communicate how the United States will be an engaged and helpful partner to the rest of the Americas.
The United States believes attendance at the Summit of the Americas is part of a process of re-engaging with the Western Hemisphere, a senior U.S. diplomat says. It is not a one-time event, Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow said in an April 13 teleconference on the president's trip. 'The perception coming up from the South that in recent years the United States has turned its attention elsewhere, has neglected its relationships in this part of the world,' Davidow said.

Announcing the policy change right before the summit can be seen as a way to avoid loud expressions of disagreement over the United States' policy toward Cuba from potentially stealing the summit microphone on hemispheric cooperation. Amid these challenges, however, lies an opportunity for the Obama administration to signal a shift in U.S. relations with the hemisphere.

Expectations, however, are much more modest yet urgent. Hopefully, the Summit will ratify the International Monetary Fund's commitment to devote a significant part of its recent trillion-dollar capitalization to the region. It will also be important to discuss the recapitalization of the Inter-American Development Bank in order to open up more regional lending. Surely there are many other issues, such as drug trafficking, but what is relevant will be the tone set in the relations between the U.S. and the rest of the hemisphere.

If Obama continues what he started in Europe, he will express a new humility, an interest in listening to the opinions of others and an acknowledgment of past errors. This will be a major departure from prior policies that were only aimed at imposing U.S. wishes and interests. We hope the Latin American countries are also ready for this fresh start in hemispheric relations

While it is probably unrealistic to expect the meeting to yield concrete initiatives, Shifter said Obama's popularity and support of multilaterism could set a new tone for relations going forward. "I think it should be judged by whether it marks a change in Latin American countries' willingness to work with the U.S., and begins to put in motion governance to try to address regional issues," he said. "I think if somehow you can come away with a different tone or different mood, that at least creates a basis for addressing some of these other issues."

The scheduled stop comes after a recent visit from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, to the delight of many Latin Americans, called the narco-trafficking a "shared responsibility" and admitted that U.S. demand for illegal drugs and supply of weapons is fueling the bloody clashes. Dr. John Bailey, professor of government and foreign affairs at Georgetown University, said the change in tone toward U.S.-Mexico relations could encourage leaders at the summit to consider "multilateral cooperation when they talk about security issues."Cuba's continued exclusion from the OAS and its summits could top the agenda, at least for the growing number of Latin American leaders advocating closer U.S. engagement with the Caribbean island nation.

If the U.S. and its Latin American and Caribbean neighbors are to live in a more stable, secure, and prosperous environment, there needs to be enhanced attention to public safety, renewed counter-drug cooperation, and a serious discussion about the place of the Americas in global security architecture.

David Rothkopf, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, agreed. "You can't solve the Mexico problem without addressing the Columbia problem, without addressing the spill into Guatemala, without addressing the spill into the Caribbean," he said. In addition to whatever else Obama does, he must move beyond an exclusive focus on drugs and crime. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made that point clear when he visited Washington in March. "I'm going to ask that the U.S. take a different view of Latin America," he said before meeting Obama.
Rather than locking Latin America and the Caribbean into a free-trade agreement favoring U.S. interests, the push for FTAA contributed to the regional integration movement. The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) was founded by Cuban President Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2004 as a direct response to FTAA. It has gone the furthest in creating trade, investment, communication, banking, energy and other regional ties.
Bush left office facing the possibility that Latin America could become a third independent trade and investment bloc for the United States to worry about. Some observers believe, however, that multilateral negotiations may not be so bad for Latin American interests as long as they proceed along the lines that now appear to be acceptable to the United States under FTAA lite.

These include a willingness by the United States to drop services and other features. In a thoughtful collection of short essays called Ten Keys to Latin America published in 1965, Frank Tanenbaum, one of the founders of Latin American studies in the United States declared prophetically: "Our difficulties with Latin America are not merely economic and political. They are moral.

Latin America and the Caribbean have enjoyed over a decade of deepening democratic processes, economic growth that has brought millions of people out of poverty, and have created several regional initiatives demonstrating a willingness and ability to address critical issues without the help of the United States. Latin America and the Caribbean were never the sorry sort of places imagined by U.S. travellers and observers. Those societies were never static. In the past half-century the region has managed to diversify its exports and considerably reduce the market dominance of the United States. Their economies have proved to be remarkably resilient.

Latin America is a different place than the one the Bush administration hoped to engage with in 2000. After a series of missteps and relative inattention by the Bush administration throughout its eight years in office, Latin America has emerged stronger and more self-reliant. Today, countries such as Brazil are emerging with greater international prominence and influence and no longer look to the United States to dictate terms of cooperation and engagement.

United States' longstanding trade embargo on Cuba faces ever greater opposition in Latin America, where the last holdouts in shunning Cuba ' Costa Rica and El Salvador ' have promised to reestablish diplomatic relations with Havana.

With all the challenges facing the Hemisphere and indeed the world today, it is vital that the United States be fully engaged with all countries in the Americas including Cuba. This Summit, in Trinidad and Tobago, can further that process.'

The Community will be actively involved in the three pre-summit engagements ' a Private Sector Forum on 15-16 April, under the theme `Promoting Private Sector-led Prosperity in the Emerging Decade: The Quest for Competitiveness Revisited; a Civil Society Forum under the theme 'Social Innovation and Implementation: Citizens in Motion' on 14-16 April; and a Youth Forum of the Americas 15-16 April.
N ext weekend's 5th Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago takes place in a context of rapid economic and political change in the southern half of the hemisphere. That change has been accompanied by another significant shift in the United States

Energy governance in the region must be open to, and incentivize, private investment across the entire energy chain. There is no better country than the summit's host, Trinidad & Tobago, to emphasize this point: Their natural gas and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) success story is the product of many years of long-term planning and vision across disparate governments. Trinidad & Tobago's development has led to its enviable position as the top LNG supplier to the United States. Underscoring their commitment to incentivizing investment, the government has announced plans for a revised fiscal regime for deep-water gas exploration. These four recommendations offer a good start towards further coordinated efforts.

Some will try to earn political points by turning Cuba's absence at the forum into the center of discussions; but, there are now many other more important issues for the Americas than the situation on the island. The agenda for the summit, to be held in Trinidad and Tobago April 17 and 18, is ambitious with its theme of promoting human prosperity, energy security and environmental sustainability.Leaders and policymakers from across the region must strive to avoid the political deadlocks that could result. Instead they should make the Summit of the Americas long on real attainable goals and short on platitudes, particularly when it comes to energy security in our hemisphere.

Using the summit to delve more deeply into all of them, however, would not only be ineffective but also undermine the important theme of the summit. Listening to its hemispheric partners and collaborating to find creative solutions to the twin problems of energy security and environmental sustainability would be the best signal that the Obama administration understands the changed political landscape of the hemisphere and sees it as an opportunity to reengage with the region in a way that fosters true cooperation and mutual respect.

The Summit of the Americas faces three baskets of shared challenges, though by tradition there will be an array of political, economic and social issues on the agenda, said Daniel Restrepo, a National Security Council deputy adviser and director for Western Hemisphere affairs

The Summit is being held for the first time in a CARICOM Member State. His Excellency Edwin Carrington, Secretary-General of CARICOM said that the Summit was opportune if for no other reason, in light of the need for urgent and comprehensive responses to the current global economic crisis. 'Our governments must work diligently together to ensure that the economic crisis is resolved as quickly as possible to bring immediate relief to those who are suffering from the negative impact from the crisis and to make the future more secure for everyone. The people of the Americas need to know that their elected leaders are taking steps, in the immediate, short and long term, to address their needs,' the Secretary-General said.

Victor Baez, the Paraguayan general secretary of the Trade Union Federation of the Americas, was in Ottawa recently to remind us that we should not limit our anti-poverty efforts to targeting economic poverty. The Americas, he said, experience widespread political and social poverty, as demonstrated by the lack of institutions and avenues through which citizens can participate in economic, social and political decision-making. Trade agreements negotiated without such popular participation, and that grant special rights to investors over those of citizens, only hinder such democratic development and perpetuate a colonial model. Kumi Naidoo, co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), says of Obama that, "We danced in the streets from Kenya to Indonesia when he was elected. Because when he said 'Yes we can', we did not understand this to mean only for the American people or only for the most powerful." He was no doubt speaking for the majority in the Americas as well.

We simply cannot lift the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba without seeing some change -- fewer political prisoners, violations of human rights and mobs of government-sponsored goons and less repression and censorship, just to get started. Because he is considered a leftist, in Latin America, Obama may have much more credibility to speak for democratic principles than his predecessor.

Let's face it: The radically leftist Latin American leadership nowadays -- especially in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador -- doesn't know what to do with Obama. To promote themselves as crusaders against "Yankee imperialism," they would much prefer to have someone like George W. Bush in the White House. Because Obama doesn't look or act like a Yankee imperialist, they know they have a huge "problema" on their hands. If Obama speaks in Latin America the way he spoke in Europe, if he addresses anti-American sentiments the way he did in Strasbourg, France, many confused Latinos may begin to identify their own real boogeymen.
Between American democracy and the totalitarian tyranny of the two-headed regime of the Castro brothers. Hopefully, if Latin American rulers who favor the Castro tyranny besiege President Obama to lift the embargo against Cuba, he will invoke the primary document which is the Inter-American Democratic Charter, signed in 2001.

Irrespective, that is, of whoever''is''temporary tenant in the White House and''which party controls the U.S. Congress.'' When, therefore, our own Caricom leaders succeed, between Friday night and before 2 p.m., in having their arranged bi-lateral meeting with President Obama, they will not have much time to hammer home their specific priorities for a Community of largely small countries whose members constitute the single largest bloc in the Organisation of American States (OAS)The meeting with Obama was confirmed by the U.S. Embassy in Managua, which said that the White House's invitation to meet with Central American leaders went through President Ortega, the president pro tempore of SICA.

Since the Obama administration began in January, in addition to meetings the president has held, Vice President Biden traveled to Chile and Costa Rica for consultations with South American and Central American leaders in March.
When you talk U.S.-Venezuela relations, it is impossible to avoid the 800 pound gorilla of the Summit: Cuba. President Obama has eased restrictions on travel and remittances for individuals with family in Cuba, but, no matter how quickly he and Congress move to further normalize relations with Cuba, it will not be fast enough for the rest of the leaders he will meet in Port of Spain. And, since "lime" is a Trinidadian catch-all phrase for just about any enjoyable social activity or just hanging out -- a cricket match calls for a "cricket lime", a trip to the beach a "beach lime," or a chat over a beer with friends on the sidewalk a "pavement lime" -- let's all hope President Obama takes time to find one. Or maybe, just maybe, he, President Chavez, and the rest of the hemisphere's leaders can make one together and we'll all be able to say "that was one good Summit lime."

The summit process, begun in 1994 by President Bill Clinton, brings together 34 leaders of the Western Hemisphere to develop a shared agenda aimed at improving citizen's lives, promoting prosperity, and strengthening good governance in the Americas.
It'' would be quite useful to learn of the IMPLEMENTATION progress actually achieved in that US-Caribbean''accord-from the Clinton presidency right up to the''end of the George W Bush's years that ended with the emergence of Obama. After the disillusionment still being reported on follow-up actions of the Fourth Summit of the Americas, hosted by Argentina, the people of the Caribbean can be expected to join with those of North, South and Central America to critically assess the results to flow from the high-sounding theme of the 2009 Port-of-Spain Summit of the Americas.'' It is not that Caribbean people have a particular penchant for cynicism. It is simply''that''trying to blend the official rhetoric of and communiques from leaders of our governments''with''a litany of failures to''IMPLEMENT decisions, unanimously made, contribute so much to prevailing disenchantment I'm not saying that it will be easy to develop a fair cap and trade system internationally, or to develop a a fair system even within the U.S. alone. I think that in the Summit of the Americas, Obama will find willing partners if he asks for them. Impoverished nations would love to find an alternative to natural resource exploitation and extraction that allows their citizens to improve their quality of life.
The final declaration of Cuba's most recent FTAA counter summit (encuentro) equates the trade content of the neoliberal agenda with regime change. As examples, it cites denunciations by Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales of alleged U.S. attempts to destabilize their governments through security programs attached to free trade.
The official line at the State Department under late Bush was that a string of bilateral treaties adds up to a stealth FTAA. Under Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon claimed that once Congress approved the pending Panama and Colombia treaties, the United States "will effectively have an unbroken line of Free Trade Agreements stretching from Canada to the tip of Chile."

This had being done by combining the less ambitious trade pacts with some of the weaker states with military and security programs ostensibly to promote peace and democracy.

In December 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended a PPA ministerial session in Panama. Rice apparently thought free trade was still on the table as she declared her delight at being with ministers "who share a fundamental. belief that open markets and free trade to growth." There are allusions to some core FTAA ideas in the final communiqué from the December meeting, such as the always-treacherous phrase "best practices" in connection with protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights and labor and environmental standards.

Begun in the Clinton years, free trade was eagerly embraced by President George W. Bush. By the time he left office last year, Bush had much less to say about it than in 2001, when he hoped to get 34 nations to sign up for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) by 2003 instead of the original Clinton target date of 2005.
Leaving aside the always-switched on machinery of intervention to block center-left presidents from holding power, the chief policy initiative of the last 15 years has been hemispheric free trade

The stumbling blocks here for the Obama administration are the uncompleted ratification of two bilateral free trade agreements signed by the United States and Panama and Colombia.

"There may be a few discussions of it in the context of protectionism vis-''-vis the U.S. stimulus package, but nobody thinks trade, particularly trade agreements, are going to be much discussed." "This is the first encounter with the region as a region," said Bernard Aronson, former assistant secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. "And there are these issues where there are conflicting views between the domestic politics and the foreign politics. That makes it more important if Obama chooses to define where he stands."

Under the terms of the long forgotten Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, much of the U.S. government's actions in the current crisis would probably qualify as a "contract or combination in restraint of trade." Accordingly, it is doubtful that the United States could qualify for membership in its own FTAA or meet the PPA spirit of the "liberalization of trade and investment flows.
"The resulting stalemate carried over into FTAA negotiations. A surprised U.S. delegation, led by Trade Representative Robert Zoellick announced that the United States would shift its strategy to negotiating bilateral treaties.

The plan also includes provisions that sound like FTAA "disciplines" to bring other countries into line with U.S. "practices and interests." It requires Mexico to reform its legal and judicial systems to harmonize them with those of the United States.
Denis McDonough, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said the president is stopping in Mexico City first to send a clear message that the United States supports Mexico and Calderon's efforts to confront the drug-related violence and power of criminal organizations. 'It's designed to send a very clear signal to our friends in Mexico City that we have a series of shared challenges as it relates to the economy, as it relates to security, insecurity, the threat of violence, and the impact of drug trafficking on both our countries,' McDonough said.

- Hemispheric business leaders will have the unique opportunity of influencing the deliberations of the governments of the continent in the Fifth Summit of the Americas during the Hemispheric Meeting of the Private Sector that will take place in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, April 15-16.
OAS Secretary General Insulza highlighted the importance of the business meeting and stressed that the Fifth Summit emphasizes the importance of hemispheric cooperation and of the shared commitments between the governments of the hemisphere, the private sector and the civil society. The forum will also focus on significant topics for the continental business sector such as Investment Opportunities in Infrastructure Megaprojects in the Americas that will have an impact on the regional commerce and competition. The Administrator of the Panama Canal Alberto Alem'n Zubieta will explain the advances of the Canal expansion project, and the special consultant for the Central Argentina-Chile Bio-Oceanic Corridor Project Rafael Bielsa will offer details on a project of such magnitude

Even before their deliberations begin, civil society is taking aim at Governments who according to the network of women and non-Government Oganizations, have been falling woefully short of living up to the commitments signed at previous Summits of the Americas. The grouping of 24 civil society groups from across the hemisphere will release a report this week in which it takes a detailed and critical look at the performance of Governments based on the commitments made at previous hemispheric gathering

There are immediate issues over the well-publicized and on-going difficulties in organizing the Summit, the overabundance and concomitant devaluation of mandates, competition from other hemispheric events that also need hosting, and, most notably, the expense and burden placed upon host countries coupled with the fact that the Summit has already run through the richer, better resourced countries in the hemisphere that are capable of bearing the financial and personnel cost involved in hosting. There appears to be general agreement amongst missions to the Organization of American States (OAS), hemispheric think tanks, research groups and academics on these points. There also appears to be a convergence of opinion about what steps need be taken to address these issues
A domestic financial meltdown, two wars, a deficit of historic proportions and a generational political shift are but a few of the recent changes that have severely diminished U.S. interest, and capacity to lead, in the hemisphere. This Summit may well be the point where hemispheric hopes for United States attention and engagement finally catch up to reality; the point where we finally stop waiting for Godot.
Dr Carrington commented further that the Summit should also serve to enhance and strengthen CARICOM relations with the rest of the hemisphere. He observed that the Summit would give participating countries an opportunity to strengthen their relationship with the United States. 'In fact, the Fifth Summit will provide a unique opportunity for countries of the Hemisphere and the United States to redefine their relationships.

In a pathetic little book, Underdevelopment is a State of Mind, Lawrence Harrison boldly asserted "Culture, more than any other factor, explains why some countries grow faster and more equitably than others." Then he continued to declare with the misplaced confidence of the woefully ignorant: "In the case of Latin America, we see a cultural pattern, derivative of traditional Hispanic Culture, that is anti-democratic, anti-social, anti-progress, anti-entrepreneurial, and at least among the elite, anti-work." Not to be outdone, David Landes, a so-so economist, wrote in a terribly disappointing study, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: "No wonder the history of Latin America in the nineteenth century was a penny-dreadful of conspiracies, cabals, coups and counter-coups - with all these entailed in insecurity, bad government, corruption, and economic retardation.
For more than a century the United States has been sowing the wind in Latin America and it is now payback time

The United States has somewhat similar arrangements in Central America through the United States-Central American (SICA) Dialogue on Security. All of this is loosely tied together militarily by the U.S. Southern Command, part of the geo-military subdivision of the world that turn s anything south of the Rio Grande into the military equivalent of a U.S. county.
"The United States is not going to block any type of discussion. That creates a better mood because Latin Americans were always put in this kind of role where they were the subordinate partner, where they understood certain issues -- -- were not going to be discussed."

With big economies like Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela in opposition, there is little likelihood that the United States will ever be able to achieve a US-dominated hemispheric economic system. This is part of the tattered policy the Obama administration has to work with.
] The Obama Administration has spoken of new funding for the international financial instates and "bottom-up" development, while the greatest hope for the region lies in a swift and strong U.S. economic recovery.
The shriveling of the free trade concept coincides roughly with the general decline of U.S. power and influence in the region. FTAA came about too late, for by 2003, neoliberalism, its central economic principle, was seen nearly everywhere as the capstone of U.S. economic imperialism.
A scholarly argument for militarized free trade is a study by the U.S. Army War College recommending "soft-power architecture" for the Americas.
The worst regional performer during that period was Mexico, tied to the U.S. and Canada through the North American Free Trade Area agreement.
Analysts William Greider and Kenneth Rapoza described the angry aftermath as a display of U.S. bluster and threats. "The impoverished island nations of the Caribbean were told they could forget about their newly negotiated U.S. trade agreement. They folded. Central American countries were threatened with loss of the modest trade preferences already granted to their products.

Even though the actual negotiations are taking place elsewhere, the Summit presents a great opportunity to explore areas of agreement and for an exchange of views between the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gas, the U.S., and the many island nations of the Caribbean that are among the most severely impacted by the globe's shifting climate. There is a growing recognition that not only is U.S. leadership absolutely crucial to get a deal in Copenhagen, but that effective island state inputs to the negotiations can have significant influence on the outcome of these critical talks.

The debate and dialogue necessary for the summit to produce real progress on hemispheric energy policy might be sidetracked by the topic of Cuba -- and particularly U.S. policy vis-''-vis the Communist nation.
There is still a chance for the meeting to be relevant, even if scaling back expectations is required. For that to happen, the Summit of the Americas should focus its approach to the hemisphere's energy policy agenda on the following four goals.

The 2009 Summit of the Americas is being held in Port of Spain, the capital city of the island nation Trinidad and Tobago, April 17'19. The president begins his trip with an April 16 stop in Mexico City for consultations with Mexican President Felipe Calder'n.Jorge Pinto, one of Mexico's top former diplomats who was the chief Mexican negotiator for the first Summit of the Americas hosted by President Clinton in 1994, is a professor of finance at Pace University's Lubin School of Business in New York City. He was an executive director of the World Bank in Washington, D.C. and a member of its board representing Mexico, Central America, Spain, and Venezuela.

At the January 2004 Special Summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico, Lula said neoliberalism had turned the 1990s into "a decade of despair" in Latin America.
There are, for instance, Eva Morales, the first-ever indigenous President of Bolivia, itself an epic political development''in the turbulent history of Latin America.
The challenge for the Obama Administration will be to deliver more than statements of concern over public safety in Latin America.

President Obama must focus the forum on ways the countries of the Americas can pursue better relations and heightened cooperation on issues of mutual concern.
While the most significant U.S. overture to Cuba in decades, President Obama's move fell short of efforts in Congress to lift all travel restrictions to the island by Americans.
And, of course, drugs bring guns. When U.S. diplomats and law enforcement officials meet with their Mexican counterparts to look for ways to squeeze the balloon of drug flow away from the U.S.-Mexico border, President Obama and his team should remember that this will push greater traffic to the "southeastern border" of the U.S. This maritime border is in many ways more problematic given the minimal capacity of security forces in much of the Caribbean and the current lack of trust and cooperation between the U.S. and Venezuela.

More than half of the people saw it as merely an "eye game" opportunity for Prime Minister Patrick Manning to walk with U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
President Barack Obama should not be surprised if he feels uncomfortable in Trinidad. The spontaneous adoration that he got recently in Europe is not likely to be repeated by the heads of the 33 other countries assembled in Port of Spain
Ahead of the summit, on Thursday Obama travels to Mexico City to engage in an ongoing dialog with Mexican President Felipe Calderón on drug-fueled violence, a topic that will possibly earn a spot on the agenda later in Trinidad.

Almost simultaneously, at the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva led an insurgent group of South nations against the U.S. agenda.

"An incipient economic community (Free Trade Area of the Americas) within an existing democratic community," says the study "requires a new security structure that can support and defend it, now and in the future." This security imperative requires "standing multinational forces (SMFs) that can handle humanitarian assistance missions, peacekeeping, peace enforcement, and other small-scale contingencies (SCCs)." It is doubtful that many of us knew that, as the study suggests, "It is time to bring back the First Special Service Force (FSSF)," a commando outfit from World War I.
There would an FSSF (N) for the northern countries of the hemisphere and an FSSF(S) for the southern. The delegates pledged allegiance "to the long-term goals of free trade in the hemisphere," and vowed, "to pursue other efforts to promote economic integration in the hemisphere."

The Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) nations of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, joined by Venezuela, forced the inclusion of a dissenting view in the final declaration. "Other member states," said the minority opinion, "maintain that the necessary conditions are not yet in place for achieving a balanced and equitable free trade agreement with effective access to markets free from subsidies and trade-distorting practices, and that takes into account the needs and sensitivities of all partners, as well as the differences in the levels of development and size of the economies." Once you take all those considerations into account, there is no FTAA. an example of how military and security issues merge with free trade is the US-Mexico Merida Initiative (also called Plan Merida).

If Plan Merida is the security arm of NAFTA, the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) is the supra-national trade and security umbrella for all of North America. Though held mostly in secret, its meetings look like an attempt to enlarge NAFTA into a northern "soft-power architecture."
Minister of Trade and Industry Senator Mariano Browne, who is responsible for the Fifth Summit of Americas, has not revealed the cost for the conference to be held at the city's waterfront Hyatt Regency hotel.
After giving it some thought, I think that the Summit will actually present Obama with an opportunity to begin discussing one of the more important environmental initiatives that would strengthen political, social, and economic ties in the Americas: a carbon cap and trade program. To make a brief but relevant aside, some critics, such as the well-known journalist Thomas Friedman say that carbon cap and trade is too complicated to work.
Friedman believes that the current effort to cap carbon will be killed politically by Obama's rival party as "a tax." He recommends instead that Obama push for a directly labeled "carbon tax" that is simplistic for the public to understand and free from political attacks that utilize distortion to falsely characterize the reasons for a "cap and trade program."

Fortunately, in adversity there is opportunity. Despite deep political and ideological divisions within the region, the current crisis has focused on a handful of issues that touch each country in the hemisphere to such a degree that there is already consensus, or the real possibility of achieving consensus, on the need for action and possible solutions.

If the Summit, with help from Canada and like-minded countries, is able to bring discipline and focus to any of these issues, and in so doing revive what has been a flagging effort, then there may be hope. Given our current reality, that is not only counterproductive, it is simply nonsensical. To be blunt, if mandates from this Summit exceed the single digit, or if there is no single, focused call for action on one or two specific points outside of the official mandate, then it will have been little more than an exercise in smoke and noise and a wasted opportunity to respond to the current crisis.

Dealing with these issues will require leaders to face up to the reality of diminished U.S. capacity for leadership in the hemisphere and to step up to fill the void.To have the summit stage dominated by a discordant element of U.S. relations with the hemisphere would undermine the message of Inter-American cooperation at the heart of the summit process.

Patrick Manning, host Prime Minster, and the Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize and current Chairman of CARICOM ' one of the sub-regional groupings of the Hemisphere - will address the opening ceremony of on Friday 17 April at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, one of the two official venues for the Summit.
Today, of course, we speak of the '''Singapore Issues''' in the ongoing WTO negotiations. It could be argued, that much of the criticism directed at the Trinidad Prime Minister, whether in terms of his own ego, or in terms of the cost of the summit venture to his country, is not unheard of, and is perhaps without much merit. That his initiative is in no way precedent-setting, even in respect of the Caribbean itself.

Canada and the United States could pledge in advance to cover 80 per cent of the annual budget for the secretariat up to a set amount for a period of three to four years. The OAS committee would then oversee a review of budgets and mandates of other summit secretariats, reconcile these with the current mandate of the secretariat office, and propose a new mandate and budget. This should not take long.
Specifically, Amnesty International is calling on the heads of state to incorporate human rights obligations as an integral part of the solutions to problems identified at the summit. Amnesty International has also called on governments to guarantee the active participation of civil society and those affected by problems, when seeking solutions.
"It is only by making meaningful commitments to strengthen human rights protection that governments will truly improve the lives of their citizens", said Susan Lee, director, Americas program at Amnesty International

A perusal of the Trinidad & Tobago press during the last month or so indicates a mounting, and somewhat surprising, crescendo of mostly negative comment, on the decision of the Government of Trinidad & Tobago to host the forthcoming Summit of the Americas. Oddly enough, at the time of the decision, this was not much evident.
The Summit of the Americas that will be held in Port of Spain, capital of Trinidad Tobago, will not have great significance beyond what is the usual in this type of conference begun a few years ago.
T&T's crime rate has spiked in recent years, in part due to an increase in narcotics traffic through the islands -- drugs moving from the mainland of South America to Trinidad and Tobago and then up the chain of Caribbean islands to North America (on a clear day Venezuela can be seen from parts of Trinidad).

The current arrangement has the host country taking responsibility for setting the agenda for the meeting, forging hemispheric consensus, convening ministerial meetings, consulting with civil society and the private sector as well as all logistical details. This is a burden that the current Summit co-ordinator for Trinidad and Tobago has described as difficult, sub-optimal and something not to be undertaken again. If the Summit is to continue, then correcting this situation must be the first priority. Without adequate resources devoted to its organization and institutionalization, the Summit will continue to stumble and will not be able to compete with other, better-funded, hemispheric summits. The FTAA was doomed in September 2003 at a FTAA Technical Negotiating Committee (TNC) meeting in Trinidad and Tobago, when Brazil refused to agree on the services, investment and intellectual property rights sections of the draft.

Bush launched Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas (PPA) in September 2008, meeting with ten current or pending free-trade partners from Latin America plus Canada. This was Bush's final effort to make some sort of soup out of the FTAA leftovers. FTAA and its satellite programs were brazenly -- even stupidly -- counter to Latin America's sovereign interests.

In the U.S. and Latin America, it has become commonplace to speak of the failures of the "war on drugs" without offering a satisfactory alternative.

U.S. Department of State, "Remarks by Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon to the Americas Society Council of the Americas, New York, NY," 04/03/08, Declaración del VII Encuentro Hemisférico de Lucha Contra los TLCs y por la Integracion de los Pueblos. Apparently unaware that to sell wine gone bad you are supposed to put it in new bottles, the ministers go on using the defiled word "liberal" as in "neoliberalism." Mind you, this meeting took place in December 2008, when the unfolding financial and economic crisis took liberalization off the table in U.S. domestic conversations about the economy and forced Bush to make the secretary of the treasury the practical czar of the automotive, finance, investment and real estate sectors

Obama has the unique opportunity to make "a fresh start" with the hemisphere's 34 democratically elected presidents, many of whom are feeling the impact of the economic crisis.] 'One. is the economic crisis and how do we rekindle economic growth and ensure that that growth is equitable economic growth, that no segments of society are left behind as the hemisphere recovers from the current economic crisis,' Restrepo said at the White House briefing.
The second is the challenge of energy security and global warming. The third significant issue is public safety, he said Energy projects, by addressing the negative impact some projects like biofuels can have on the availability of food and particularly on the land rights of the hemisphere's indigenous peoples.
The operations of companies, by acknowledging the need for strong legislation to hold corporations to account for their potentially negative impact on human rights. Climate change, by committing to the adoption of policies that put human rights considerations at the center of both reversing and mitigating climate change.
Public security, by committing to ensure that public security laws and practices, including those dealing with terrorism and organized crime, comply fully with human rights obligations, such as the right not to be arbitrarily detained, tortured or subjected to enforced disappearance.

Defeated in the late 1990s, MAI proposals reappeared in early FTAA drafts. A Canadian public advocacy group warned that the resurrected MAI "will give unequalled new rights to the transnational corporations of the hemisphere to compete for and even challenge every publicly funded service of its governments, including health care, education, social security, culture and environmental protection."

Written in 1980, it called for the United States to "assume the role of the unquestionably cohesive force in building a Western Hemispheric community." This kind of thinking was residual Cold War hysteria over the spread of communism and fear of losing control anywhere in the Hemisphere whenever a government seemed about to fall into the hands of its own people 'At the end of the day, it is quite clear that there are shared responsibilities in the hemisphere. The United States is stepping up to do its part on these three areas,' Restrepo said

The most basic element behind the Summit is that neighbours who share a hemisphere can benefit for having heads of state sit down together for direct discussions over a limited informal agenda If a host for the next Summit can be found in Port of Spain, the assembled heads of state could move that a special commission be created at the OAS, perhaps composed of past summit and special summit hosts, to determine an exact budget and terms of reference for a strengthened secretariat based on leading, analogous summits. This committee would have strict deadlines for reporting out.

CARICOM leaders will also engage in a number of bi-lateral meetings with other Heads of State and Government and leading political representativesAlready, a 97-paragraph draft Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain has been negotiated for adoption by the Heads of State and Government of the 34 member states.

A foreign corporation could bypass the U.S. government and, acting as though it were a state, seek redress in special tribunals. Already connected to the United States and Canada through NAFTA, Mexico is now enlisted in the wars on terror, drugs, gangs and the other U.S. fears regularly investigated in congressional hearings.On the separate Mexico visit, Restrepo said the president understands the challenges presented by the flow of illegal weapons from the United States into MexicoLeaders of other countries--most prominently the presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia--sometimes seek to directly challenge the United States.Officially, we are not supposed to compare it to the infamous Plan Colombia, which, since 1996, has tied the United States to the permanent train wreck that is Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Bilateral free-trade agreements pit weaker economies against the United States, which is still in a position to offer inducements to sign up for dubious one-sided deals. Jurgen Kurtz, director of the International Investment Law Program at the Melbourne Law School, said, "In bilateral negotiations, individual developing countries have significantly less leeway to negotiate concessions in areas of interest to them." Besides, the United States has a way of introducing some of the more objectionable proposals such as services and foreign investment into bilateral draft treaties, says Kurtz One commentator told the Times, "The United States is no longer, and will not be ever again, the major interlocutor for the countries in the region."In general the region has been more socially responsible than the United States for a far longer time

Media coverage of the event described the tone as decidedly critical of the United States, FTAA and the blockade of Cuba.The United States has lately been following multiple paths to achieve what FTAA failed to achieve.As Cuban scholar Jorge Hernandez described it, the FTAA strategy was to build a "closed reserve" for the United States through "an offensive of regional expansion of the transnationals of that country."

Some self-serving conservative thinkers confused socialism with loss of sovereignty and concluded that free traders like financier George Soros were subversives and that former secretary of state Henry Kissinger was conspiring to turn the United States into a subdivision of "a global socialist state." The New York Times said the United States had become "a punching bag at the three-day conference."

What, we suspect, is new in Trinidad'''s case is, as we have hinted above, the change in the economic climate in Trinidad and a certain nervousness as to whether an economic strategy elaborated on the basis of a continuing increase in the country'''s foreign reserves, can hold in the forseeable future.
This naturally is giving grist to his domestic opponents, particularly in a context of Mr Manning'''s electoral victory of two years ago when the opposition to his People'''s National Party had expected to do much better. It would not be far fetched to suggest a criticism which has not been much focused upon in Trinidad itself.Excellent article. Our government has feared Cuba succeeding as a nation since 1959, and has done unspeakable things to prevent it, because Cuba's success might influence other Latin nations into similar revolutions to shed their American economic dependence
The Obama administration's recent fulfillment of a campaign promise to remove all restrictions on Cuban American travel and remittance sending to Cuba is trying to do just that.
Obama must also deal with drug cartel violence on the U.S.-Mexican border, the rise of Brazil as a global superpower, and Venezuelan President Hugo Ch'avez -- the region's leading critic of Bush's policies and Cuba's top ally.
And, as the recent media kerfuffle over Obama's apparent bow to Saudi King Abdullah demonstrated, the president's domestic critics will be watching closely for any perceived missteps. Obama will feel pressure from friendlier sources as well, particularly the Democratic lawmakers who will be accompanying him to the summit. President Barack Obama on Monday moved to lift all travel and gift restrictions for Cuban Americans

During Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's trip to Washington in March, Obama and Lula made it clear that the hemisphere must work to avoid protectionism. 'I would love it if President Obama were thinking of a good neighbor policy,' Arias said in a statement
"You will see open discussions of issues that have not been discussed up until now, including Cuba and drugs," said Michael Shifter, vice president for policy and director of the Andean Program at Inter-American Dialogue
While Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is the most vocal of the critics of U.S. policy on Cuba, all of the Caribbean would like to see Cuba brought back into the OAS fold. T&T's Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, certainly falls into this category, as he is a frequent visitor to Cuba and receives medical treatment there. T&T will have its big moment on the world stage.

As if the regional rejection of neoliberal doctrine never happened, Rice and the other ministers thought, "Reducing or eliminating barriers, including administrative ones that hinder investment and the trade of goods and services in the Hemisphere," would be desirable as would, "Increasing the links of our countries with multilateral financial institutions, including the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.""If the U.S. wants to make progress in multilateral efforts in the hemisphere, it can't do it without Brazil -- whether it is trade, environment, democracy, energy," Shifter said.

As noted above, responsible leaders in the hemisphere need to step forward to end insurgencies and defend the Americas against the threats of international terrorism.

The White House advisers said there are significant other issues to be addressed during the Summit of the Americas, including remittances, education, human prosperity and poverty eradication.
Who remembers that the official theme of the Fourth Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina in 2005 was "increased job creation to fight poverty and strengthen democratic governance"? What the summit actually did was to make even a flexible FTAA untenable.] When 2003 arrived, it turned out to be the year FTAA come apart and eventually broke into a patchwork of multilateral treaties with Central America and the Dominican Republic (DR-CAFTA) and bilateral pacts with Chile with others pending.

Like in the U.S., it will take strong political will to push a green agenda forward. On the climate front, one would hope that there would be heightened focus on this issue given Secretary General Ban's presence and this year's UNFCCC negotiations that culminate in Copenhagen in December. Chavez and other leaders are expected to pressure Obama to begin normalization of relations with Havana, beginning with easing the U.S. embargo Plenary Session Two will address 'Energy Security'. This will be followed by Plenary Session Three on 'Democratic Governance and Public Security'. These agenda items were decided during the summit follow-up at the last gathering of leaders in Mar- del -Plata, Argentina in 2005.
The architects of the summit promise to focus on human prosperity, energy security, and environmental sustainability.
Now, prospects for comprehensive dialogue on energy security in the Americas can only be described as diminished McDonough said Obama will discuss concrete goals in the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship, including energy security and global warming

For months, the summit offered the hope of a new, more positive, approach to coordinated regional energy policy. Parallel to the summit, representatives of social movements including indigenous peoples, farmers, unions, women, human rights and environmental organizations are meeting in an alternative People's Summit.

The 34 democratically elected leaders in the Western Hemisphere will attend the three-day summit
Prevailing domestic political problems seem likely to succeed in keeping Morales away from the Fifth Summit

The interconnection between Latin America and the volatile Middle East--especially via the diplomatic mechanisms being established between Venezuela and Iran--will open further fissures and conduits for potential dangerous and destabilizing movements in the region.
EcoWorldly brings you news on sustainable successes and ecological failures in other countries that offer lessons for green progress in America.
In India & China carbon trading is considered like milking the neighbors cow - wonderful & free money. Russ, have you lived in a developing country? Sure, there is corruption, just as there is in developed countries like the U.S.


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