The U.S. Knocks
On Open Doors
trips in 2008, where we met with
the presidents of Peru, Ecuador,
Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, and
corrupt governments in the region.
In Argentina, President Cristina
Fernández de Kirchner continues
Bolivia. What struck me was how to battle inflation and interna-
JOeL e. StArr our conversations differed from tional creditors, with public and
new dawn may be on the their public messages—both about private debt held against Argen-
horizon for U.S. relations Venezuela and the United States. tina totaling $26.5 billion.
in the Hemisphere. Fresh Paraguayan President Fernando The new U.S. administration
from meeting his hemispheric Lugo shared with us a message should move forward to
counterparts at the Summit of for the new U.S. president: “Tell immediately assist these leaders in
the Americas, President Barack Obama that the President of Para- accomplishing domestic priorities.
Obama has a unique opportunity guay dreams of a different Latin The President will be knocking
to use the political goodwill America. Tell him we should have on an open door: along with Lugo,
he has generated to revive a relationship we dream to have.” the presidents and their staffs
existing partnerships or create In Ecuador, when the expressed great enthusiasm for
new multilateral relationships. conversation turned to Venezuela, President Obama.
More dynamic and harmonious President Rafael Correa referred Perhaps Obama can exploit this
relationships would not only to President Hugo Chávez as goodwill by bringing sympathetic
open areas for collaboration regional leaders together in a
and provide the conditions for special summit of democracies.
greater regional prosperity and The United States forgave Call it the Bolivarian Democratic
growth, but also serve to blunt $19 billion in foreign Summit to attract the Venezuelan
the worrying trend of cash-for- leader, with a promise that the
debt to Lati