Friday, April 17, 2009

Summit of the Americas - Change in Substance or Only in Style?

Well, the world is watching the Latin American leaders gathering in Trinidad for the latest Summit of the Americas, where President Barack Obama arrived earlier today to promote a "new phase" of U.S.-Latin America relations. The first day of the gathering seems to be focusing a lot of attention on the situation in Cuba, especially after this week's announcement that Washington was lifting restrictions on travel to Cuba by Cuban Americans, among other minor shifts.

The Summit is taking place just one day after President Obama visited Mexico, his first visit to the region since taking office. In his meetings with President Felipe Calderon, Obama said he would push for immigration reform this year to legalize the estimated 12 million undocumented workers living in the United States, an issue that has always been on the agenda for Mexico, but has been deliberately sidetracked by political pressures in the US. They also discussed the growing drug crisis in Mexico, which the U.S. seems to be trying to resolve through military means, a reminder of the precarious nature of Washington's anti-drug policies in the hemisphere.

Obama also said that for now, because of the economic crisis at home, he did not think it was a good time to review the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – one of his campaign pledges. That said, it is clear that issues of trade and the regional economy will clearly be on the agenda of the summit leaders.

This meeting also takes place a day after Bolivian security foiled an assassination attempt against President Evo Morales, a development that has gotten very little attention in the U.S. media as they've focused on Obama's trip.

This morning, on WBAI's Wake UP Call, we addressed all of these issues in the second hour of the program, from 7:00-8:00am.

We first discussed the latest developments from Bolivia with an update from Kathryn Ledebur, Executive Director Andean Information Network in Cochabamba, and freelance reporter Jean Friedman-Rudovsky from La Paz, the Bolivian capital.

Then we had a panel discussion about the Summit of the Americas with Christy Thornton, Publisher of NACLA's Report on the Americas, Andrew Hudson, a Senior Associate of Human Rights First, who put out an open memo about human rights to the world leaders on the eve of the summit, and NYU Historian and author Greg Grandin.

To listen to the entire hour, click here!

No comments: