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When President George Bush breezed through Latin America on a four-day tour, the region waited to see what gifts the U.S. president would bring. It’s still waiting.
The United States continues pumping money into its unsuccessful War on Drugs and it has boosted humanitarian aid. But Bush’s visit to Mexico, Peru and El Salvador brought no substantive changes in U.S. policy toward the region.
Streamlined immigration with Mexico remains elusive and fast-track trade negotiation power is stuck in the U.S. Congress, as is renewal of the Andean Trade Preference Pact with tariff relief for the region’s textile exports. Even the promise of free trade with Central America offered no concrete jump-start.
Bush did, however, spring one surprise: the return of the Peace Corps to Peru after a 27-year absence. The volunteer corps, which the U.S. president says will “teach that we’re a loving country, that we care deeply about the citizens of the world,” left Peru amid anti-U.S. sentiment during a leftist military government. By August, Peru should see the first of about 150 Peace Corps volunteers who will serve in the Andean nation through 2003.
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo welcomed the corps’ return. But a Peruvian journalist had a different reaction at a news conference with Bush: “You are in a region now that has been devastated by terrorism and subversion and drug trafficking for more than three decades and you are offering us the Peace Corps?”
Author: Mary A. Dempsey
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