Republican presidential candidate John McCain began his Latin American tour in Colombia where he met with his counterpart Ãlvaro Uribe. Discussing issues such as a free-trade agreement, drug policy and the fight against the FARC guerrillas. McCain visited the cities of Cartagena and BogotÃ¡.
Adam Isacson of Plan Colombia and Beyond sums up why Colombia would be an important stop for McCain.
Why, in the midst of a hotly contested campaign season, might McCain want to leave the country and go to Colombia?
The most likely answer is one word: Florida.
Florida is the biggest â€œswing state,â€ as the world saw clearly in 2000. And one of its chief â€œswingâ€ constituencies are Latino voters.
Many of these Latino voters are people who left their home countries after leftists came to power: Cubans who fled Castro; Venezuelans who flocked to Dade and Broward counties after ChÃ¡vez was elected; even middle-and-upper-class Colombians who abandoned their country in the late 1990s, when the FARCâ€™s strength made the security situation too precarious.
However, Marisa TreviÃ±o of Latina Lista sees this trip as simply going for the votes and not necessarily actively working for resolution of the topics address on the trip:
In fact, a trip to Latin America, at this point in time, serves more as a blatant attempt to pander for the Hispanic vote rather than any constructive trip to achieve results.
Visiting Latin America without being able to do nothing more than not being able to promise anything seems like a photo opp and nothing more.
In addition to an audience of potential Latino voters in the United States, Greg Weeks of Weeks Notice adds another potential audience that McCain may be addressing:
Those who see Obama as naÃ¯ve in foreign affairs: McCain wants to show how he stands up for â€œour friendsâ€ in the hemisphere. No matter what you think of this argument, with regard to foreign policy most voters care about Iraq, but will pay little attention to how we deal with Uribe.
Perhaps by luck, McCain's visit coincided with the rescue operation that freed Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages, including 3 U.S. citizens. El Blog Al Dia [es] writes that President Uribe informed McCain of the rescue attempt hours before it was scheduled to take place.
Some Colombian bloggers like Juan Gratiniano Lopez are very skeptical of McCain's visit, and wonders if there is some alternate reason for the visit [es] looking towards its neighbor of Venezuela:
Sera que el seÃ±or MC Cain ha ido a Colombia a negociar otro apoyo del “gobierno” colombiano para invadir otra nacion?? sera que quieren tener a Uribe en la maleta por si ahora la invasion es de un pais suramericano??
Could it be possible that Mr. McCain went to Colombia to negotiate the support of the Colombian “government” in order to invade another country? Could it be possible that they want Uribe in hand if there is the invasion is of a South American country?