Military dude plus trade lady plus Julie Sweig (and others) have put out a new Council on Foreign Relations task force report saying that it's time for the U.S. to move past a trade obsessed focus in our dealings with Latin America, and that the Monroe Doctrine is dead. Here's a key clip:
The Task Force finds that trade... and development aid have not and cannot alone lead to sufficient reductions in poverty and economic inequality in Latin America. The growth of the informal sector, while often successful in increasing incomes for the poor, undermines the economic base of Latin American countries and the effectiveness of state institutions, which are critical in addressing the region’s fundamental challenges.
At the same time, you don't get former USTR Charlene Barshefksy to sign off on your task force without the obligatory hail marys at the FTA altar:
The United States should also approve pending free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. Free trade remains an important policy tool for expanding economic opportunities in the region and the United States. Rejection of these agreements would severely damage close allies, send a negative signal to other countries in the region, give rise to the view that the United States is an unreliable partner, and strengthen countries in the region that espouse anti-Americanism.
Oh yeah, and trade is responsible for the stellar growth in Latin America, which, wait, wasn't so stellar. Can we say that if something good happened it was because of trade, but if something bad happened, trade had nothing to do with it? As a leading presidential aspirant might say, "yes, we can."