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President Enrique Pena Nieto welcomes Barack Obama to Mexico in February. (Photo: Mexican President's Office)
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Perspectives

US-Latin America Relations: Zuzuneando

Except for Mexico, the Obama administration has chosen to opt out from Latin America.

BY BEATRICE E. RANGEL

ZunZuneo, the US-supported Twitter for Cuba, was shot down in 2012, having failed on the promise to create a new age of exchanges between the young from Cuba and the US. In the process, great connectivity expectations tied to the system by both young Cubans and content creators from both sides of the Florida Straits were shattered.  

The episode is perhaps the best snapshot of contemporary exchanges between the US and Latin America. Indeed, except for relations with Mexico, the Obama administration has chosen to opt out from Latin America altogether.

The decision, completely sensible in terms of the geopolitical choices open to the United States, have created the greatest disenchantment in the region stretching south of the Rio Grande since the Kennedy assassination.

To be sure, the  country led by President Obama is not only struggling to abate the threat of recession but is also  en route to reestablishing a world balance of power while it experiences the most significant industrial redeployment since the turn of the 19th century. These challenges demand the undivided attention of any US leader that aims at docking the national ship in the ports of stability and security.

But, alas this is not only misunderstood but maligned by the constituency of the south. Accustomed to a pattern of exchanges springing from the Cold War when Soviet containment demands overrode freedom and economic weight, Latin American nations have been unresponsive to new realities.

The fall of the Berlin Wall triggered the concretion of a new scenario whereby the US had to become the world compass. It was the time to concentrate in internal restructuring so as to guarantee the establishment of rule of law to protect freedom and of individual initiative to promote wellbeing. This would have created a strong platform to build a true partnership in the 21st century.

But lack of understanding of the attributes of the emerging world prevented the region from taking such a path. The commodities boom was perhaps the single most determining factor in numbing the strategic alertness of the region.  

Now as many say  “we are where we are and where we are is not where we want to be.” Same happened with ZunZuneo. It was meant to become autonomous but since it never really took off, it has been shelved for the time being.  

Beatrice Rangel is CEO of AMLA Consulting Group, a business development advisory firm in Miami. She has also served as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies and as Minister of the Secretariat during the Presidency of Carlos Andrés Pérez (Venezuela).She wrote this column for Latinvex.  

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