[lg policy] Is there a Latino foreign policy?

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 13 15:40:48 UTC 2012

Is there a Latino foreign policy?

Editor's Note: Antonia Hernández, Chief Executive Officer of the
California Community Fund (CCF) and Solomon Trujillo, Chief Executive
Officer of Trujillo Group Investments, are co-chairs of the Pacific
Council on International Policy’s Latino Taskforce, the first group to
look at foreign relations issues through the lens of Latinos.

By Antonia Hernández and Solomon Trujillo - Special to CNN

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s visit to the U.S. this week had
the potential to repair the bilateral relationship between the
hemisphere’s two largest economies and refocus U.S. foreign policy in
its own neighborhood. Instead, Americans and Brazilians will bemoan
another missed opportunity. Contrasted against the red carpet rolled
out for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh - state dinner, honor
guard, Jennifer Hudson - the lack of pomp and circumstance surrounding
President Rousseff’s Washington debut is downright dispiriting.

President Obama’s announcement of a U.S. “pivot” toward Asia late last
year left many Latinos scratching their heads. It is hard to
understand why the Obama administration - and others before it - would
hesitate to give a higher priority to our own hemisphere when
redeploying the nation's economic, diplomatic, and military assets. A
pivot toward markets much closer to home would better serve the
national interest.  Such a “Latino foreign policy” would reflects our
country’s changing demographics and allow our leaders to pay closer
attention to the political, economic and social development of their
own hemisphere.

As growing middle class countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile,
and Mexico, emerge as 21stcentury growth hubs, policymakers should
focus on strengthening our nation's capacity to navigate a multipolar
world where U.S. influence will continue to be challenged by new
emerging powers. Many South American countries today are less likely
to look north for advice and assistance, turning instead to China and
India, while looking to Brazil for a model of self-reliance.

With exception of North-South trade, which continues to grow,
America's official engagement with the region has been episodic,
limited to crisis management and bilateral and sub-regional trade
pacts.  In addition, there have been on-going clashes with Venezuela,
resistance to U.S. leadership by Brazil, ongoing friction with Cuba,
and America's symbolic affronts to the region as domestic politics
blocked Senate approval of key appointments to positions with
responsibilities for the region.

If these trends continue, U.S. leaders will wake up a decade from now
in a hemisphere that is crisscrossed with Chinese investments in oil,
copper, iron ore and soy beans, a weak dollar competing against Reals
and Rupees, and a new generation of consumers filling up with Iranian
oil. There is too much at stake to disregard our neighbors to the
South at this critical time in their economic and social development.

Luckily, there is still time to change course. U.S. Latinos by virtue
of their personal and familial histories look at U.S. foreign policy
from a perspective that is different from the current crop of foreign
policy practitioners. Latinos bring to the table a visceral
understanding of the challenges shared across the hemisphere and a
collective sense of frustration when Washington neglects its
hemispheric neighbors with whom we share so many cultural values.

Domestically, the U.S. Latino community’s political and economic
influence is growing. Latinos now make up 16 percent of the U.S.
population.  While America's non-Latino population grew 9 percent in
2010, the Latino population grew 43 percent, and most electoral
battleground states have large Latino electorates.

The Latino economic footprint is just as impressive, with purchasing
power projected to top $1.5 trillion by 2015. Yet while both political
parties seem to recognize the electoral significance of the Latino
community, so far both seem to disregard Latino opinions, emotions,
ideas and connections in formulating laws and regulations at the
federal, state and local levels - including American foreign policy.

U.S. foreign policy is bound to become more informed by Latino voices
for several reasons: the growing electoral strength of Latinos; the
growing profile of Latinos at official levels – e.g.,  in the
military, Foreign Service, and Congress, which means that Latinos are
already positioned to play an important role in helping to clarify our
hemispheric interests and to refocus foreign policy to achieve those
interests; and because diplomacy is, above all, about relationships,
Latinos can use their language skills and cultural affinities to help
bridge the divide between the U.S. and our southern neighbors.

A Latino-influenced foreign policy would likely reaffirm traditional
pillars of U.S. hemispheric policy - namely, the promotion of
democratic political development and trade expansion via FTAs - but it
would be more attuned to the ways in which trade stimulates economic
development, and how rising living standards influence issues that
directly affect the U.S., such as migration, drugs, and crime.

In addition, a Latino-influenced policy would give higher priority to
further integrating our foreign policy with many of our own domestic
issues, such as protecting energy security through joint energy
development in hemisphere; strengthening the rule of law, law
enforcement, and judicial institutions and administration; and
achieving comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. in a way that
mobilizes cross-border human capital and recognizes a longstanding
economic dependence on migrant labor.

We believe that America's growing Latino population - including
Latinos already in leadership positions - can be a major asset in
reforming America's hemispheric policy. We also believe a
Latino-informed approach to policy reform will better serve U.S.
interests while resonating with our neighbors to the South.  However,
America's Latino assets are not being used as they could to advance
the nation's interest. Better relations with our neighbors are
possible. Latinos can lead the way.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Antonia
Hernández and Solomon Trujillo.
	Post by: Antonia Hernández, Solomon Trujillo


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