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| 1/2/2009 12:00:00 AM

OP-ED: Latin American challenges for Obama

Jan 2 -- It's Nov. 4, 2008, Election Day, and we're driving north from Granada, Nicaragua. Everywhere we stop, my Obama T-shirt is greeted with cheers and approval. This is the sentiment throughout Latin America. Clearly, the new Obama administration is starting off with an important reservoir of goodwill in this huge region.

In addition, Hugo Chávez, the fiery, anti-American president of Venezuela, is struggling. High oil prices had enabled him to dole out favors to countries like Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua and to promote leaders like Nicaragua's Sandinista President, Daniel Ortega. But now prices have dropped well below the $95 per barrel that he needs to sustain himself, so Chávez no longer has the cash to pay for his anti Americanism. Recently, he had to ask Nicaragua for food in return for his support, which has driven prices up for already impoverished Nicaraguans.

These two factors create a new window of opportunity for the incoming Obama administration. What should be done? Here are several ideas, some easy and immediate, others tougher and longer-term.

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EDICIÓN 1855

PORTADA

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