Campaign Promises

Cabinet/Departments -> State -> Latin America/Caribbean

Latin America/CaribbeanGrade
The Promise: " president, Obama will grant Cuban Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send remittances to the island."
When/Where: Obama Plan "Renewing U.S. Leadership in the Americas", dated 06/06/08.
Status:Done. On 04/13/09, President Obama issued an executive order eliminating limits on travel and raising remittance levels by Cuban Americans to relatives in Cuba.

On 01/14/11, President Obama ordered his Administration to find ways to ease travel to Cuba by non-Cuban Americans (primarily academics, students, religious groups, and journalists). Money transfers to Cuba would be permitted to non-government persons in an amount not exceeding $2,000 per year.

Campaign promise kept.
The Promise: "...will rebuild diplomatic links throughout the hemisphere through aggressive, principled, and sustained diplomacy in the Americas from Day One. He will bolster U.S. interests in the region by pursuing policies that advance democracy, opportunity, and security and will treat our hemispheric partners and neighbors with dignity and respect."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "To Secure America and Restore our Standing," undated.
Status:Barely 4 months in office in 04/09, President Obama attended the 5th Summit of the Americas in Trinidad & Tobago along with 33 other democratically elected Heads of State and Government of the Western Hemisphere. President Obama used this meeting to start engaging in new relationships with countries of the Americas to work together on common challenges: the economic crisis, our common energy and climate future, and public safety.

During the meeting, President Obama committed to continue working with Western Hemisphere counterparts for the reduction of poverty, social inclusion, and democratic governance.

However, since the promising approach expressed during the 5th Summit of the Americas in Trinidad & Tobago, the Americas have been disappointed by the lack of U.S. follow-up. This disappointment is rooted in the Obama Administration's contentious stances on issues such as:

-the 06/28/09 coup d'etat in Honduras after which every country in the region withdrew as well as all European Union nations withdrew their Ambassadors from Honduras -- except the United States,
- the maintenance and expansion of a U.S. military presence in Colombia which is opposed by the Colombian people and most other countries in the region,
- non-support by numerous Latin American countries of the Copenhagan climate change negotiations, exacerbated by the withdrawal of U.S. funds for climate change from Ecuador and Bolivia,
- the broken promise to close down the Guantanamo detention facility.

The resumption of diplomatic relations with Cuba announced by President Obama on 12/17/14 was significant. For this reason, it is considered that significant progress was made by the Obama Administration toward promise fulfillment as of the opening of Cuban and U.S. embassies in mid-CY2015.
The Promise: "...will bring together the countries of the region in a new Energy Partnership for the Americas to forge a path toward sustainable growth and clean energy. They will call on the American people to join this effort through an Energy Corps of engineers and scientists who will go to the region and beyond to help develop clean energy solutions."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "To Secure America and Restore our Standing," undated.
Status:During the 04/09 Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, President Obama invited all governments of the Western Hemisphere to join in an Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA).

He suggested that the ECPA focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleaner and more efficient use of fossil fuels, energy poverty, and infrastructure. This focus was developed at the 06/09 Americas Energy and Climate Symposium in Lima, Peru.

During his first trilateral North American Leaders meeting held at Guadalajara, Mexico on 08/10/09, President Obama led the establishment of a partnership with the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada on future emissions trading systems and building a smart grid across the region for more efficient and reliable electricity inter-connections. The partnership established between these three countries was a step in the right direction toward promise fulfillment.

In 04/10, Energy Secretary Chu invited Western Hemisphere energy ministers to the "Energy and Climate Ministerial of the Americas". During this meeting, State Secretary Clinton proposed that ECPA's mandate be expanded to include initiatives regarding sustainable forests and land use, as well as climate change adaptation.

To jump-start the ECPA's efforts, the Administration named three top scientists to serve as ECPA fellows, to serve as consultants, advisors or educators for any of the member countries: Dr. Daniel Kammen, a professor of energy at the University of California-Berkeley; Dr. Ruth Defries, a professor of sustainable development at Columbia University; and Dr. Gerry Galloway, an engineering professor at the University of Maryland.

This promise has been fulfilled.
The Promise: "...will substantially increase our aid to the Americas and embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty around the world in half by 2015..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "To Secure America and Restore our Standing," undated.
Status:The Millenium Development Goals (MDG), of which there are eight, resulted from the United Nations Millenium Declaration of CY2000. Goal #1: Halve by 2015 the proportion of people whose income is less than $1.00 per day.

In CY1990, the above definition of poverty applied to 29% of the Caribbean and 11% of the Latin America population. By CY2005, had gone down to the 26% level for the Caribbean and 7% for Latin America. The goal for Latin America by CY2015 is to reduce extreme poverty to the 5% level which appears on track and attainable. For the Caribbean, the CY2015 extreme poverty goal is 14%, which may not be reached.

At the outset, Millenium Development Goal #1 targeted an extreme poverty reduction from 45% to 23% by CY2015. According to United Nations reports, although progress was hindered during the global economic crisis, the poverty reduction effort will actually result in 15% of the world's population living in extreme poverty instead of 23%.

As to foreign aid extended to Latin America and the Caribbean, the enacted amount for FY2009 was $2.1B. In FY2010, this amount spiked to $3.3B. In light of federal budget constraints, Latin America/Caribbean foreign aid was cut to $1.9B in FY2011, further cut to $1.8B in FY2012, and the FY2013 foreign aid request for the Latin America/Caribbean region is $1.7B.

While the UN goal to reduce poverty in the Americas by half by CY2015 is generally on track, U.S. foreign aid to the Americas has declined in all but one of President Obama's budget requests.

This promise has not been fulfilled.
The Promise: "...we need to target all sources of insecurity through a new hemispheric security initiative. This initiative will foster cooperation within the region to combat gangs, trafficking and violent criminal activity."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "To Secure America and Restore our Standing," undated.
Status:On 05/27/10, the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) was launched during the first "U.S.-Caribbean Security Dialogue" in Washington, D.C. The CBSI supplements three other related initiatives: the Merida Initiative, the Central American Regional Security Initiative, and the Colombian Security Development Initiative.

By covering the different regions of Latin America and the Caribbean through these initiatives, the Obama Administration is attempting to "mitigate any 'baloon effect' - criminal spillover resulting from successful reductions in drug trafficking and transnational crime elsewhere in the region."

There are three objectives of the CBSI: (1) substantially reduce illicit trafficking, (2) increase public safety and security, and (3) promote social justice. To accomplish this, the FY2010 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill allocated $37M for CBSI. President Obama is requesting $79M for CBSI in his FY2011 budget proposal, $62M of which would be used for police and military assistance, and $17M for economic and social assistance.

The initiative promised has been delivered. Promise fulfilled.