One of the greatest failings of the Obama administration has been the absence of a concerted effort to better understand our neighbors to the South. Not only is US foreign policy towards Latin America now almost the same as that under President GW Bush, but there is no apparent interest in learning about the ideas and intellectual trends that lead to particular forms of governing in the rest of the Americas.
The death of Hugo Chávez should give us
pause to think about this lacuna in American foreign policy and in
mainstream culture in general. Why is there so much ignorance about the
history of ideas in Latin America, at a time when the percentage of
Hispanics in the overall US population has surpassed that of African
Americans, and when globalization has made the Western Hemisphere more
tight-kit? The answer is that ideas from the Spanish- and
Portuguese-speaking areas of the continent are simply not taught and
disseminated in the US. The US does this at its own peril, for this
creates a cultural gulf between the two Americas, and it generates
misleading policy choices that are based on
simplistic, caricaturist versions of reality.
Read on here.