Colombia: Obama heading to the Summit of the Americas

while his approval ratings drop,

According to a new Gallup Opinion Briefing out this morning, Obama’s median job approval rating in that region was 62% right after he took office in 2009.

Today, it’s 47%, a drop of 15 points or 25%.

Of course, he’s not seeking to transform that region and they can’t vote. Given the perennial talk by U.S. presidents about better neighborhood relations and the inevitable ensuing political indifference, Gallup found that only a median 24% of Latin Americans in 21 countries now see a strengthening of relations.

This compares to 43% in 18 countries back when Obama’s “Hope and Change” wasn’t a late-night laugh line.

The decline varies from Paraguay, where few expected it in 2009 (24%) and folks still don’t (22%), to Chile, where 60% expected better relations under Obama but today only 25% do.

Other declines include Colombia (down 10%), Panama (down 17%) and Brazil (down 18%) to Costa Rica (down 22%), Mexico (down 24%) and Uruguay (down 33%).

Why has Latin America lost faith on Obama?

President Obama’s new era of “engagement” with the region has yielded few—if any—tangible results. The administration has failed to defend democracy and the rule of law, failed to standby regional allies and friends, and failed to put forward concrete proposals to tackle the region’s most difficult security challenges.

The administration’s only success—passage of free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama—were hardly that. Both deals were signed under the Bush administration and were ready for congressional approval on Obama’s first day in office, but the White House—at the behest of union allies—stalled for two and a half years. The administration’s delay deprived U.S. corporations of important business opportunities and greatly damaged America’s reputation as a free market leader.

Obama signed the Colombia-US Free Trade Agreement last year but it has yet to be implemented, according to Business Week.

There is also the issue of the drug trade, with Latin American Leaders to Question U.S. Drug Policy at Summit.

Obama is scheduled to arrive in Cartagena, Colombia at 5:45PM local time. Right now he’s in Tampa giving a speech.

While at the Summit, Obama will meet with Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez,

Although the agenda was not revealed Argentina and the US have several issues to discuss mainly trade, protectionism and compensation for American companies as well as possible retaliatory measures, sources said.

I hope he doesn’t come out and tell her that the US supports bilateral UK-Argentina talks over the Falklands.

Hugo Chavez is scheduled to make a cameo appearance, but I don’t think he’ll be watching the video on Cuba’s latest wave of repression,

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