On May 18th the New York Times reported on a private dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with six former presidents from Latin America. According to the article, the Secretary was seeking a way to improve the Obama Administration's policy towards Latin America. This event comes on the heels of the announced departure of Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela, ostensibly to return to academia at Georgetown University. An Administration so fond of “reset buttons” appears to be seeking a “reset button” of its own policies toward a region virtually abandoned over the last two years.
There is good reason for the Obama Administration to seek a modification in their approach. Over the last several years failures in the region have multiplied. The U.S. currently does not have high level (Ambassadorial) representation with five countries in the region. Funding for programs – specifically counter-narcotics – is decreasing. President Obama's one trip to Latin America was overshadowed by the initiation of a bombing campaign against Libya. In a diplomatic faus pax the President even gave the order for the initiation of hostilities from the office of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, despite the fact that Brazil had abstained from supporting the UN resolution sanctioning the attack.