NDN Blog

The Current Dialogue of U.S. & Latin American Relations

Recently a panel of current and former George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs deans offered foreign policy advice for the next president. The America in Transition: Foreign Policy Advice for the New President panel made some practical and feasible recommendations for what President-elect Barack Obama can do to tackle issues of international security and diplomacy. The discussion had great points, focusing on Russia, China, and Iraq -- but absent from the discussion was Latin America. A similar tendency can be observed in national discussions and debates. Latin America is mentioned intermittently. But a further lack of active diplomacy may leave the United States losing further financial and political capital in the region to countries such Iran, China, and Russia and hinder crucial counternarcotics programs. As John Kiriakou cautions in the Los Angeles Times, a further lack of official focus on Latin America may make counter terrorism efforts more difficult as well.

Your driver might be a renowned economist back home

Some food for thought next time you are in a cab …

Teresa Watanabe of the Los Angeles Times writes about the “brain waste” that is occurring in California of the 300,000 college educated legal immigrants.  Nationally 1.3 million legal immigrants experience similar stories.  They were professionals in their native countries working as lawyers, physicians, and computer science experts but are working here in jobs outside of their professional studies.  Reasons vary-finances, personal conflicts, lack of English fluency and non-recognition of foreign academic and professional criteria-but there is a clear need to address how we manage these professionals and transition them effectively into the workforce.  With better methods they may help alleviate the greater demand in our workforce in the upcoming years (particularly due to the growing number of retiring Baby Boomers). 

Another Major Factor Deciding How Hispanics Vote

Recently the Washington Post reported that health is second only to the economy among issues that voters say will be most important in their choice for president. And according to a poll conducted by the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one-third (32%) of Americans say “someone in their family has had trouble paying medical bills in the last year”.

160 million people are insured through their employers. With our economic woes continuing, the number of uninsured Americans, currently 45 million, will continue to rise in the foreseeable future.

Both presidential candidates have spent much time discussing their own health plans and attacking each other’s. This is most evident in the Obama camp, which has already spent 8 times more on T.V. healthcare advertising than Senator McCain’s campaign. Senator Barack Obama has allocated 68% of total air time – a reported $113 million – to health care.

Senator Barack Obama has been advertising heavily in swing states, both in English and Spanish.  The Hispanic community is a key demographic group in Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico. Their influence could certainly swing the election in Obama’s favor. Senator Obama’s campaign has spent millions wooing Hispanics in Spanish language ads (like "American Dream" and "Seguro Medico"). He appears on programs such as Al Punto with Jorge Ramos and continually hammers away at Senator John McCain’s health proposals.

The average U.S. Hispanic earns less than the average non-Hispanic and according to a 2006 U.S. Census Bureau report, 24.4 percent of Hispanics work within service and low wage labor occupations. Hispanics make up 11% of service workers, 20% of construction workers, and 18% of agricultural workers, professions likely to be disproportionately affected by tough economic times.

Many Hispanics, including 23% of Hispanic children, are uninsured. Hispanics have the highest uninsured rates (36%) of any racial or ethnic group within the United States. A difficult economic situation will certainly not improve these figures. As the election comes to a close it is evident that the Obama campaign understands what is most important to the Hispanic community and “clearly communicating that understanding” to them. 

As noted in Politico, Obama’s commitment to health care allowed the Senator to define his health plan proposals but more importantly, he’s been able to mold the perception of McCain’s plan.

Syndicate content