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OAS: isolating America

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A scandal involving Barack Obama's security detail and Colombian call girls was the main news story at last week’s Summit of the Americas in Cartagena.

In the long run, though, the Summit may be remembered as the one, in which the United States showed how isolated it is from mainstream opinion in the rest of the hemisphere.

The Washington-based Brookings Institution spotlighted two issues - Cuba and drugs - which it called “highly divisive".

As far as drugs were concerned, several countries, including Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama, backed the Obama line, which says that the war not only must go on, it must expand.

Specifically, Latin American business leaders need to make a bigger contribution, and not just leave the battle to government, said the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick.

On the other hand, the Summit produced a strong majority of leaders, including Costa Rica’s Laura Chinchilla, and Guatemala’s Otto Perez, which wants a reappraisal of a drug war that each year costs tens of thousands of lives and countless losses to national economies in Latin America.

Cuba was another divisive issue. But in this case, the only division was between the United States, which insisted on continuing its trade embargo, and all the other countries, which opposed it.