President Barack Obama came to Colombia seeking to erase an image of the U.S. in Latin America as overassertive Yankees who exploit the region at will. He left with the stereotype reinforced.
The sixth Summit of the Americas that concluded yesterday in the Caribbean city of Cartagena was supposed to focus on trade in the Western Hemisphere. Instead, 11 U.S. Secret Service agents became the center of attention after they were sent home for allegations of misconduct involving a prostitute.
The agents’ behavior was an embarrassment for Obama, obscuring what should have been an opportunity to trumpet a free-trade agreement with host Colombia and expanding trade to fast-growing economies like Brazil, said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas in Washington. Leaders from Latin America also took aim at Obama for the U.S.’s refusal to invite Cuba to the next such regional gathering.
Way to fuck up foreign policy, asshats!
An already-tempestuous meeting-- personified by the absence of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (nominally for cancer treatments, but also because Raul Castro was not invited), Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa (also in support of Castro), Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega (yes, he's back), and the early departure of Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, humiliated by the lack of support for her appeal on a referendum asking Great Britain to return the Falkland Islands-- could have turned into a modified success with some of the work Obama did with Colombia and Brazil.
Indeed, that a US President could go to Cartagena with civilian protection instead at the head of an armed military incursion force speaks volumes about the progress the United States has made in the region, particularly Obama, trying to persuade South Americans that we aren't just about exploiting their resources and leaving a mess behind.
Mind you, none of this rumoured mess happened with the agents on duty while President Obama was in the country insofar as anyone knows. The scandal occured prior to his arrival and involved members of his advance team.