Jorge G. Castañeda
Leftovers: Tales of the Latin American Left.
Fixing the mess inherited from the Bush administration will be no simple task for the next U.S. administration. In Latin America, it will be particularly arduous. The reason is simple but paradoxical. George W. Bush raised expectations greatly when he took office and announced that he was making the relationship with Latin America in general and Mexico in particular a priority. He kept his promise for seven and a half months -- until 9/11, after which the United States, understandably enough, concentrated all its energies and attention on al Qaeda and Iraq. What was less understandable was that this lasted seven years. And because of this neglect of the rest of the world and the relentless focus on Iraq and terrorism, Bush has become more unpopular in Latin America than any other U.S. president in recent memory. This is all the more paradoxical since Bush has in fact been less interventionist and less aggressive toward Latin America than any other U.S. president in recent memory.