Monday, April 16, 2012

Amercas Summit Winners and Losers

Winner - Colombian Pres. Juan Manuel Santos: Altho he didn't succeed in achieving consensus for his ideas of reconsidering the War on Drugs, he did come off like a statesman, he got a wave of positive publicity for Colombia and reaffirmed relations with the United States, including setting a date for the (unfortunate) U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

Obama and Santos smile about the Free Trade Agreement on the cover of today's El Tiempo.
On the downside, Colombia's relations with Latin America's leftist governments, few of whom attended the summit, became more strained.

Otto Perez Molina.
Winner - Guatemalan Pres. Otto Perez Molina: This ex-military man heading a tiny, poor country put himself onto the global stage for 15 minutes at least by leading the push to reconsider prohibitionist drug policies. Pres. Santos has been the other prominent advocate for a reevaluation of how to deal with drug addiction and violence. Altho the U.S. rejected a change to anti-drug strategies, the issue was discussed for the first time in a major international forum, hopefully opening the gate to further debates. (Surprising, isn't it, that the calls for decriminalization are coming for conservative leaders?)

Broke Even - U.S. Pres. Barack Obama: He generated ill-will by nixing calls to reevaluate the War on Drugs and to allow Cuba to participate in meetings of heads of state. On the other hand, Obama beat the drums for economic growth and reducing poverty, which will play well at home, and buddied up with Pres. Santos. Obama also became a hero just by being the first Afro-American U.S. president in the mostly Afro-Colombian city of Cartagena. But the trip was marred, perhaps even overshadowed, by the Secret Service's drinking-and-prostitution scandal. 

Cristina Fernandez,
no closer to the Falklands.
Loser - Argentine Pres. Cristina Fernandez: She failed to get a consensus behind her drive to pressure England to negotiate the status of the Falkland Islands. Pres. Santos apparently 'forgot' to mention the issue in his closing speech. More likely, Colombia's relationships with the U.S., Canada and ex-British colonies in the Caribbean mattered more to him than Kirchner's futile quest. A miffed Kirchner left the summit early.

Secret Service men
guarding the Pope:
But what did they do
Loser - The U.S. Secret Service: Male members of this supposedly elite security team came off looking more like adolescents who couldn't hold their liquor or keep their pants on. Some of them may lose their jobs because they were caught dallying with prostitutes. Has the Secret Service considered hiring only female agents for its most sensitive positions?

Winner - Cartagena's prostitutes, who got a burst of unexpected publicity thanks to the Secret Service's antics.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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