US president Barack Obama defended his Latin American policy, praised Mexico’s resilience in the drugs war, criticized Cuban reforms as insufficient and emphasized the ‘equals-relation’ between countries in the region and Washington.
“The days when the US was the leading associate and Latin America second rate associates are over”, said President Obama who praised the region’s strong leaderships, the performance of economies growing sustainedly and the fact that countries are addressing challenges with the right policies.
The US president described the advances as “a new era” in which the relation is one of ‘equals’.
Obama mentioned as the growing US interest for the region the coming ratification by Congress of trade agreements with Panama and Colombia which should “become effective before the end of the year”.
The US president also recalled his last May visit to Latin America (Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Guatemala) and the “extremely active” inter-action of US diplomats in the region.
However when referring to Cuba, Obama described reforms in the island as “not sufficiently aggressive”. He added that “when we think of all the changes seen in the Middle East in the last six months, with virtually no authoritarian or communist countries left in the world, here this small island is a standing return to the sixties”.
In spite of the Cuban regime’s commitment to open the economy and more opportunities for business to act freely “we have not seen aggressive changes in the economy”, underlined Obama.
Further on he ratified full support for Mexico and President Felipe Calderón opposition to any negotiations with the drug cartels, as requested by some, who consider it would help to ease violence.
“Peace at the price of accepting people with no morals and no respect for human rights, is not peace and is not good for any community”, said Obama who backed Calderon’s decision and very ‘much respects’ his approach to the matter: “it will be difficult but at the end of the day Mexico will be stronger for not having yielded”.
Obama made reference to his undelivered promise of a migratory reform bill, which he admitted, but also recalled that since August the US deportations policy is concentrating on those undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes.
“By changing the deportations policy we’re not going to grant citizenships or solve the problem but it must be part of the solution; anyhow we will continue to push for an overall inclusive migration bill”, promised the US president.