Latin American Op Eds

Latin American Op-Eds

What Real Progress in Cuba Should Look Like –
By Mel Martinez and Francis Rooney
3.22.2016  |  Sun-Sentinal

When President Obama stepped off Air Force One in Havana, many focused on the historic
nature of his visit to Cuba — the first since President Calvin Coolidge.

Coverage is focused on a thaw in Cold War animosity, and images of President Obama strolling the Malecón and meeting with Raúl Castro are being broadcast around the world.

However, behind those scenes, the Cuban people continue to suffer… READ MORE

The Regional Response to Zika 
By Mel Martinez and Francis Rooney
2.15.2016  |  Real Clear Politics

The relationship between the United States and its closest neighbors is focused on economic and security matters. Concerns regarding health care rise to the top of the agenda only in times of crisis, and in those crises there are dangers as well as opportunities. So it is with the rapid proliferation of the Zika virus throughout the hemisphere. In helping to lead a region-wide response, U.S. policymakers can improve the capacity of our neighbors to respond to this and future outbreaks, and in so doing better protect the American public and improve U.S. relations with Latin America…READ MORE

The U.S. Needs a ‘Plan Colombia’ for Central America
By Mel Martinez and Francis Rooney
1.6.2016  |  The National Interest

During the worst years of its narco-violence, Colombia’s governing institutions and democratic culture were under siege by powerful drug cartels. Recognizing the threat posed to U.S. national interests by powerful criminal organizations that fed on America’s voracious appetite for illegal drugs, Washington offered its southern neighbor critical support in the form of Plan Colombia. The holistic package provided the Colombian government with close to $5 billion for countering the drug cartels, with additional funds provided by international partners and by the Colombian government itself. U.S. assistance included training by U.S. military forces, as well as high-tech surveillance and precision weaponry to help Colombian security forces target cartel infrastructure and leadership. Colombia’s courageous fight against the drug cartels and the success of Plan Colombia offer important lessons that must inform current U.S. outreach to besieged governments in Central America…READ MORE

Focusing on Latin America is Essential in 2016
By Francis Rooney and Mel Martinez
10.23.2015  |  Real Clear Politics

While the attention of the United States is focused elsewhere, Latin America is entering a period of dynamic change that could reshape its future, and recast relations with its neighbor to the north. In Argentina, a notable reformer finds himself in a close election against a member of the old guard. In Venezuela, the ruling party is turning increasingly repressive in an attempt to retain its slipping grip on power. Colombia is trying to reconcile its search for peace and desire for justice. A young democracy in Panama seeks to build stronger institutions and diversify its economy. Mexico’s growing middle class is assuming a greater role in national politics, and confronting violence driven by corruption and narcotics trafficking….READ MORE

Argentina’s Fork in the Road
By Francis Rooney and Maximillian Angerholzer III
9.29.2015  |  The National Interest

When the Argentine people go to the polls in October, they will have an opportunity to reject the protectionism and populism that are the hallmarks of current President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s government. There are certainly recent Latin American success stories that point towards a more hopeful path, to include the examples set by more conservative governments like those in Colombia and Mexico. There are also several countries that are both geographically and ideologically closer to home for Argentina that offer valuable lessons as well: consider the Chile of President Michelle Bachelet and former president Ricardo Lagos; the Uruguay of President Tabaré Vázquez and former president Jose “Pepe” Mujica; and, notably, Peru and the transformation launched there by former president Alan Garcia…READ MORE

Venezuela’s President is Out of Control
By Francis Rooney and Mel Martinez
2.27.2015  |  The National Interest

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s recent orders to arrest Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, numerous opposition leaders and senior Venezuelan Air Force officers have pushed his country to the brink. The crisis illustrates not only the paranoia of a collapsing Venezuelan regime, but also the divergence between two blocs in Latin America—one set of countries following the failed, kleptocratic regimes left behind by “Chavismo” and another set pursuing liberal democracy, open markets and equitable development…READ MORE

U. S. misses Latin America’s role in global power balance
By Francis Rooney and Maximillian Angerholzer III
8.6.2014  |  The Orlando Sentinel

As Venezuelan Gen. Hugo Carvajal returned from Aruba to a hero’s welcome in Caracas, state TV announced his return as a triumph for “Bolivarian diplomacy.” For a Venezuelan regime that was beset by civil unrest and shortages of key consumer staples, this was an opportunity to claim a victory against the United States, which was seeking the extradition of Carvajal for his extensive ties to drug trafficking and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia…READ MORE

A New Vision for the Western Hemisphere
By Francis Rooney and Dan Mahaffee
7.24.2013  |  Latin American Herald Tribune 

Consider a region with growing economic and geopolitical importance, home to several of our highest-value trading partners, with significant immigration into and remittances in and out of the United States, and presenting security challenges vital to our interests. One would think that such a region would be at the top of the list of our foreign policy priorities…READ MORE