eyes on the U.S.

For Latin America, Obama Will Leave A Major Legacy

Barack Obama's recent trip to Cuba and Argentina are the crowning achievement on his administration's efforts to consolidate peaceful ties with and among Latin American countries.

Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro
Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro
Hernando Roa Suárez

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — He entered the White House by sowing egalitarian hopes across the world. Now, President Barack Obama enters his administration's final year by consolidating the democratic conscience of the West.

Obama's recent visits to Havana and Buenos Aires were clearly more than just protocol visits. Here are some of the reasons why the U.S. President is leaving a legacy of geopolitical significance in Latin America, and beyond:

1. Obama's declarations and interventions suggest he has been acting as a statesman and has sought to help build an environment of democratic cooperation in present-day Latin America. These actions represent a carefully developed vision, and are reflected in his latest State of the Union.

2. Obama has continued a line of profoundly democratic sensibilities represented earlier by such presidents as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.

3. We know about Obama's charisma, and he is recognized worldwide for his presence, wisdom and exceptional personal traits. In his way and in our time, Obama has pursued the construction of representative and participatory democracy, faith in the equality of all citizens before the law and in the fight against oppression.

4. Given the power structure of the world today and the role played by China and Russia, Obama is sending clear messages to Latin America about the need to live together in peace, to consolidate liberal democracy and to make the required changes to those ends.

5. Obama's visit to Cuba symbolized the end of the Cold War in Latin America and the need to start a new era focused on values such as freedom, democracy, alternation of power, peace, interaction through dialogue, guarantees for opponents, plurality in exercising rights and the presence of free media.

At our end, we should bear in mind our continental history and heterogeneous political traditions, and make defending our own democratic values the basis and path for negotiating any future, long-term treaties with the United States.

And we shouldn't forget the immediate political factor in Obama's actions. His visit to Cuba is also an act of support for Hillary Clinton's campaign in terms of its importance for the Latino vote in the United States. It inevitably highlights the profound difference between Obama's world view and that of Donald Trump, whose inexperience and ignorance pose a threat to the free world and to Latin America in particular.

Perhaps we should be planning ahead, bearing that in mind.

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