Mitt Romney's Latin America policy includes a 'Reagan Economic Zone'

After Rick Perry caused a stir suggesting the US may need to send troops to quell violence in Mexico, now come some thoughts from Mitt Romney, including the idea to create a "Reagan Economic Zone" in Latin America.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Republican presidential candidate, former Governor Mitt Romney, speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. He recently released ideas within his foreign policy plan for Latin America.

Without commentary, I provide a summary below of Mitt Romney's plans for Latin America released in his foreign policy white paper.

Strategically, Romney sees the two big threats to the region as:

  1. "Venezuela and Cuba are leading a virulently anti-American 'Bolivarian' movement across Latin America that seeks to undermine institutions of democratic governance and economic opportunity."
  2. "The region is also witnessing an epidemic of violent criminal gangs and drug cartels, which have wrought death and mayhem across much of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean."

Within that framework, Romney proposes the following actions for US-Latin American relations:

  • During the first 100 days in office, Romney promises to launch a public relations effort called the Campaign for Economic Opportunity in Latin America (CEOLA). This will "Capitalize on the benefits arising from the ratification of the Colombian and Panamanian free trade agreements to launch a robust public-diplomacy and trade promotion campaign in Latin America that contrasts the benefits of democracy, free trade, and economic opportunity with the ills caused by the authoritarian model of Venezuela and Cuba."
  • Long term, he plans to create a "Reagan Economic Zone" in the Americas.
  • He will form the Hemispheric Joint Task Force on Crime and Terrorism, which will coordinate intelligence and enforcement. He will use this to "sever all financial, logistical, and material connections" between the region and foreign terrorist groups such as Hezbollah.
  • On Mexico, Romney will explore the need for enhanced military-to-military training cooperation and intelligence sharing similar to what was done in Colombia.
  • Romney promises to complete the border fence.
  • Also of note, looking at the past four years, Romney says he would have done the following things differently:

    • Sent the Colombia and Panama trade agreements to Congress sooner.
    • Supported the removal of Honduran President Zelaya.
    • Not eased restrictions on Cuba.

    I'll try to do this sort of summary for any other serious candidates who release specific plans for the region. I will provide commentary separately.

    --- James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant who runs Bloggings by Boz.

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