If our next president fails to recognize the need to change direction in Latin America, the United States will suffer a strategic setback in our own backyard. Our home hemisphere is critical for trade and security, and it should not be ignored by the United States to the benefit of authoritarian dictators.
This truth makes clear the importance of Mitt Romney's candidacy for the presidency. He understands Latin America. He has spent decades working in business, including business directly connected to Latin America. Governor Romney deeply recognizes that strong ties to the south must begin with a strong economic foundation here at home. President Obama's inability to restore such a foundation has been his principal failure.
Governor Romney has set forth a hemispheric vision, one in which the United States and our partners solve common problems and achieve common success. His detailed plans include negotiating new free trade agreements with our friends in the region. He has proposed new partnerships to promote economic opportunity, protect political liberty and formulate joint strategies to combat drugs and crime. He will be vigilant in countering the depredations of Venezuela, Cuba and other malign forces. Mitt Romney sees the future of the region as one based upon freedom, opportunity and human dignity. And he has a record of accomplishment that gives grist to that vision.
The central lesson of the Colombia summit is that one weekend of speeches and press conferences cannot repair three years of President Obama's disregard for Latin America. In fact, it only served to expose the consequences of American absence from the region. The Secret Service scandal has caused our country great embarrassment. But we should recognize that the larger embarrassment is an American president who has neglected our interests by neglecting our closest neighbors.