The leaders of the Americas meet with President Obama in Colombia this weekend, where he is expected to hang tough on Washington’s anti-narcotics and Cuba policies, positions ever-more unpopular in a region drifting away from U.S. dominance, reports the Houston Chronicle. The drug trade helps to finance insurgencies in Colombia and Peru, enriches rampaging gangs in Central America and Mexico, and lines the pockets of corrupt officials everywhere.
“Obama is well-liked and the U.S. enjoys a more positive image in Latin America than it did a few years ago,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter American Dialogue, a Washington think tank. “But in the region there is a sense of disappointment that more progress has not been made on a shared agenda.” A growing faction of regional leaders – including Guatemala’s new conservative president and Mexico’s outgoing Felipe Calderon – has broached decriminalizing narcotics in order to sap the gangsters’ illicit income and the corruption it spawns. Obama, facing what could be a tough re-election campaign and ongoing culture wars at home, isn’t having any of it.