Jun 10/05 - On US Senator Mel Martinez's criticism of US policy towards Latin America
PMBComment: Senator Mel Martinez (R-Florida), who shares WYSIWYG traits with George W. Bush, bluntly exposed in Florida one of the worst hidden secrets in Washington: when it comes to Latin America, what little interest does exist seldom, if ever, morphs into effective and durable policy.
Being of the opinion that President Bush indeed cares one iota about the region, I am nevertheless convinced that many of those he has chosen to implement and communicate his Latin policy have ill served him and their country. The growing anti-US sentiment in the region is undeniable and troublesome. Under the cover of US and Bush-bashing the most retrograde, fraudulent and inept political players in the region are getting a second chance few would have imagined in the pre 9/11 days.
If Iraq has turned into a mess for lack of adequate planning and an excess of roadside bombs, US’s Latin America policy is falling prey to a pack of lies that somehow carry more punch that some hard learned – but pitifully sold – lessons and truths. As time passes, this begins to look like an uncontested bout that is bound to produce vertigo, heartbreak and increased suffering for hundreds of millions. While adept charlatans like Castro and Chavez have earned cachet for stage managing this surprisingly asymmetrical struggle, inept communicators and a lackadaisical approach to the region here in
As President Bush stated in
My recommendation to the first Latin American elected to the US Senate, is that he use his unfettered access to suggest:
1) A change in the Latin team at State ASAP;
2) An invitation by the President to a handful of key Presidents in the region to a weekend of unscripted and off-the-record conversations in
3) The appointment of a trusted confidant of the President as conduit for follow-ups and more regular direct communication with his colleagues in the region (as President Clinton did so successfully with Mack McLarty);
4) Forget about making trade accords the visible face of policy – people do not relate well to these, they benefit from them, but cannot relate to the nuance that surrounds them and the debate they elicit;
5) Attempt to translate his strong personal values into a credible message that is well disseminated to a population that actually shares many of them; and,
6) Ensure that Condi Rice spends as much time in the region as possible – a black, very smart and extremely charming woman with enviable access to the most powerful man in the world is the best proof of what the
Martinez wants focus on Latin America, discouraged by
Brendan Farrington, Associated Press Writer
10 June 2005 14:26
KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) - Sen. Mel Martinez criticized the Bush administration and Congress on Friday for paying little attention to growing Latin American problems and lamented the slow progress in
"The administration has been very remiss for the last four years in its direction toward Latin America to their great consternation now," said
"We have tremendous problems in
The U.N. peacekeeping force in
"I'm anxious to go to
"I am discouraged by how long it has taken for us to begin to draw down some forces," he said. "I would have thought by now, and I think in a clearer moment that the president and (Defense) Secretary (Donald) Rumsfeld would have thought that by now we would be in a position to be able to draw down some forces. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case."
He said he has had to write many condolence letters to the families of Floridians killed in
"It brings home the importance of the decision to send men and women to go to war," he said. "It has become a foreign fighters' war against us there and the progress seems slow and difficult."
He also said the Bush administration should consider Sen. Joseph Biden's suggestion that the
Last month, Amnesty International called the detention center for alleged terrorists "the gulag of our time."
"It's become an icon for bad stories and at some point you wonder the cost-benefit ratio,"