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This is a joint posting with Cindy Prieto.
Since the coup ousting Honduran president Manuel Zelaya last June, the international community has responded with strong words and a mix of mostly mild actions. The Organization of American States (OAS) unanimously voted to suspend Honduras when the de facto regime ignored its demand for the immediate reinstatement of Zelaya, and the UN General Assembly has also adopted a resolution denouncing the coup. The United States and European Union have halted some forms of non-humanitarian aid. But despite some calls for action , the United States and other major trade partners have yet to adopt trade sanctions or to freeze the coup leaders' assets.
As President Obama was making his way to the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago last week, many hoped for something more concrete than just a fresh start with our neighbors in Latin America, who felt neglected and ignored for the past eight years. Those of us hoping that the president might take the opportunity to announce plans to seek congressional approval for two trade agreements that have been pending for two years or more--with Panama and Colombia--were disappointed.
President Bush is going to Latin America, and that has inspired a round of commentary in the mainstream press. A New York Times editorial urges the President to focus on democracy, human rights and social justice, and applauds the recent doubling of U.S. aid to the region. Democracy and social justice and a dollop of aid (the current budget of $1.6 billion is barely 1 percent of spending by Latin governments on health and education) are good things.
Nearly every time there is a news story about the billions of dollars flowing to poor countries as remittances, someone worries that not “enough” of that money is being saved and invested. A case in point is today’s piece in the Washington Post. Latin American workers in the US will send home $45 billion this year, but “only a small portion … has gone to economic development.”