Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Latin American Policy Questions for Debate

At a recent event at Florida International University, the following questions were asked to the top advisors of the John McCain and Barack Obama's foreign policy advisors for Latin America.

1. On a recent visit to Miami at a hurricane benefit, President Preval appealed to audiences requesting TPS status for Haitians during the recovery period. At what point during the Obama administration would you consider approving this measure for the poorest country in the hemisphere?

2. After much deliberation regarding Colombia’s free trade agreement during the campaign, what exactly was included in the agreement with Peru that was deemed “okay” and approved by the democrats and why hasn’t this been mentioned during the campaign?

3. Some polls estimate that public security is the most important of a factor to hinder the Americas’ wavering democracy, what will a Obama administration do to help not only US Americans feel safer while traveling but also help Latin American’s feel safer in their own cities?

4. During the current Bush Administration, USAID funded a reality TV show of gang members in Central America; do you feel this is an appropriate use of US taxpayer funds, why or why not?

5. The upcoming Summit of the Americas will be held in April for the first time in the Caribbean with the theme of sustainability, how would you personally make the event more successful than Mar del Plata (or previous ones)? What specific policies and or event would you like to implement at the event? Under a Obama administration, how will you make sure the OAS Summit Follow-up agreements are treated?

6. Urban planning is a major issue for many cities throughout the Americas, what could a Obama administration do to help alleviate traffic, improve decrepit infrastructure and make parks safe for children to play in?

7. As you may know, Latin Americans of African descendent comprise of nearly 30 percent of the Hemisphere’s population and nearly all of them are poor. What can a Obama administration do to assist Afro Latinos?

8. There is investment capital missing in Latin America, not just for small-micro businesses, but also for “Jose the Plumber” shops making $US 250,000 dollars a year. What can the US government do to assist to provide this type of capital to middle and larger-size small business to grow in Latin America?

9. Mohammed Yunus won a Nobel peace prize in 2006 for developing a micro-credit model for women of Bangladesh. Latin America has been implementing micro-credit funds for years. Some countries have state run micro credit and other markets have saturated loans and thus provide “donations” not loans to the poor. Do you believe in regulating the Grameen Bank model for micro-credit of Latin America?

10. In several of the recent debates both John McCain and Barack Obama mentioned they would use a scalpel to cut earmark spending. Much of this funding goes to develop programs at Universities, which create jobs and student fellowships. How could some of these new cuts affect Latin American programs at public institutions like FIU?

11. Two weeks ago when the dow dropped over 700 points, creating the value of the dolor to drop, many Argentines ran in massive droves to the banks to withdraw their money forming long lines and shutting down the city. What would you tell people in Latin America as the US economy is falling to do with their financial resources?

12. The gang and drug related violence in Mexico has surged since Felipe Calderon took office, most recently a young American boy under the age of 10 was kidnapped and it is suspected that his grandfather was part of a Mexican drug cartel. At what point do you think the American people will come to the rescue and help Mexico with this invasive problem of crime and drugs? What would an Obama/McCain Administration do to alleviate the problem, beyond the Merida Initiative?

13. With the US economy in a recession, many Central American immigrants living in the United States are unable to find suitable jobs; many of them are primarily responsible for sending money home to sustain their families. What could an Obama/McCain Administration do to encourage these illegal immigrants to go back home and also aid their economies to entice them back?

14. What would be the spending priorities for USAID programs in Latin America under an Obama/McCain administration?

15. Environmental degradation in the Americas is – as in most parts of the world – a serious concern that affects how priorities would be set in terms of economic development and social policies. How do you envision an Obama/McCain administration supporting environmental protection in the Americas? What would be your priorities?

16. Many people in the Americas believe that the US has turned its back on the hemisphere, how would an Obama/McCain administration try to change this view? What would be the first Latin American countries Obama/McCain would visit and why?

17. The Bush Administration set up the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which is currently working in Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, El Salvador, Guyana and Peru. There are several pockets of poverty in other countries, what will the Obama/McCain presidencies do to assist these countries needs when their governments are corrupt?

18. The Merida Initiative approved in May authorized $1.1 billion for Mexico over three years to help fight crime, but the current Administration of Felipe Calderon in Mexico, requested an additional $450 million budget as part of the 2009. Would the new administration continue to promote such a program or would it re-direct the funding to other programs?

19. In September 2006, Congress approved the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-367) to authorize the construction of a border fence and other parries along 700 miles of the US-Mexico Border.” New private citizen organizations to patrol the border have been formed. Would the new administration continue to fund the construction of the wall? Would it encourage private citizen to patrol the border?

20. It is common knowledge that the US has stronger environmental protection regulations than Latin America. Examples of these regulations include the protection of dolphins during tuna hunting, dumping regulations, and food and drug regulations for products such as sweeteners. How will you protect US industries that follow regulations (in the process raising the cost of production) when competing with Latin American imports that are produced at lower cost because they do not follow the regulations and safety codes during production?

21. Recently Paul Krugman was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work in Economics, explaining why developed countries trade with other developed countries. One of the implications is that there might be a hidden net benefit for developed economies to trade with other developed countries vs. underdeveloped nations. With this in mind will the new administration encourage or fund infrastructure projects, such as the building of public roads, water systems, etc. and education programs in an attempt to increase the benefits we gain by trading Mexico through NAFTA?

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