WASHINGTON – U.S. President Barack Obama paid scant attention to Latin America in his State of the Union address, referring only to the ratification of free-trade agreements with two of the region’s countries.
Unlike last year, when Obama announced plans to visit Brazil, Chile and El Salvador, the foreign policy portion of this year’s speech to Congress largely ignored Latin America while focusing on tensions with Iran, the Arab Spring and other global political issues.
The president merely noted that free-trade agreements with Panama and Colombia went into effect in 2011 after having been stalled in Congress for several years.
“Soon there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea,” Obama said Tuesday night in referring to his goal of doubling U.S. exports between 2010 and 2015.
Obama’s visit last March to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador was his first to South America since taking office in early 2009.
The president traveled twice to Mexico in 2009 and participated that year in the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, where he announced his commitment to a renewed relationship with Latin America.
For some analysts, however, that commitment to stronger ties has not yet yielded tangible results.
Obama is scheduled to travel in April to the Colombian city of Cartagena for this year’s Summit of the Americas. EFE