Presidential Debate Winner: Latin America Is the Big Winner of Foreign Policy Debate

ByJohannes K. Schmidt

Going into tonight’s debate, I had very little hope that either candidate would demonstrate any real interest in our own Western Hemisphere. Thank the Lord, I was proven wrong.

In my previous article I noted the importance of the next administration’s re-engagement of Latin America, especially noting the recent Venezuelan election and Mercosur’s suspension of Paraguay to become “an ideological club of friends,” both dangerous indicators of the path that the region is on.

I was not alone, however, with regards to my concern for Russian and Iranian presences in the region. While President Obama attempted to discredit Governor Romney for viewing Russia as a major threat, Romney confidently explained that the threat was a geopolitical one- a distinction that President Obama could not seem to make. He went on to explain the importance of the Latin American economy, comparing it to the Chinese one, hinting at the importance of regional engagement. President Obama did not.

Regardless, at the end of the day, President Obama refused to address our hemisphere, even briefly.

While President Obama advocated for protectionist measures against China, Governor Romney called for fair trade and cooperation. I can’t help but agree that we must work together with China as they are not a threat, but rather a natural ally, unlike Iran and Russia. Chinese involvement in the region has never been with the intention of destabilization, but rather, mutually beneficial growth with the region.

To me, its no wonder that Latin America could go unnoticed while being home to some of the least-free economies when an American president is advocating for less economic freedom.  

Tonight’s debate should have offered the Western Hemisphere a touch of confidence in the fact that there is a clear chance of a Romney victory this next month.

While President Obama plans of staying on his current track of regional disengagement, Governor Romney hinted at a clear alternative.