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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

May 6, 2013 - 8:25 am

The former chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee criticized President Obama’s Latin American trip as lots of soundbites and no coherent policy to back it up.

“It is disappointing that the president once again concludes a visit to Latin America without any coherent strategy on how to advance U.S. interests in the region, promote democracy, and hold accountable those regimes that oppress their own people. During his trip, the President acknowledged the ongoing crisis in Venezuela but failed to offer what actions the U.S. government would take in order to respond to the calls for democracy by the Venezuelan people,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said.

“At the same time, the president failed to condemn the illegitimate elections in Nicaragua and Daniel Ortega’s successful attempts to violate the Nicaraguan constitution multiple times. How can we expect the president to stand firm to Maduro now in Venezuela, when he has no problem sitting at the dinner table with Daniel Ortega who engaged in the same tactics as Maduro and prevented a free, fair, and transparent election from occurring?” she added.

Obama finished a short trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, where his addresses were more pep talk than anything else. “Some Americans only see the Mexico that is depicted in sensational headlines of violence and border crossings,” he said in a speech praising the country’s culture and accomplishments.

The president also heaped blame on the U.S. for keeping cartels in business — “much of the root cause of violence that’s been happening here in Mexico, for which many so Mexicans have suffered, is the demand for illegal drugs in the United States” — and for being a source of guns into Mexico.

“In Mexico and Central America, the issue of narco-terrorism is real and rampant throughout the region and must be met head on by strengthening institutions and providing sufficient security assistance to our allies in the region. According to President Obama, the U.S. has much to apologize for: when the guns are used in Mexico, it the U.S. supplier, not the Mexican consumer, that is at fault; but when the drugs are used in the U.S., it is the U.S. consumer, not the Mexican supplier, that is at fault,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “The only common element is that when the U.S. is anywhere in a sentence, the U.S. is at fault. Let’s stop apologizing to countries, Mr. President.”

“I hope this trip helps the administration recognize the economic importance of our relationship with Latin America which can only improve in an environment of open markets and free societies,” the congresswoman continued.

“Just this week, Bolivia stated plans to expel USAID, the Obama Administration granted a U.S. visa to Raul Castro’s daughter and returned to Cuba a convicted spy without having him finish his sentence. The leaders of the ALBA nations in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua are constantly working against U.S. and regional democracy and security objectives and from Cuba to Venezuela, millions of innocent people continue to be deprived of their democratic rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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