Courtesy Reuters

Incoming U.S. presidents, from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, have often announced a new policy initiative toward Latin America and the Caribbean. But few expected this from Barack Obama. His administration was inheriting too many far more pressing problems. During the presidential campaign, moreover, he had said little about the region beyond suggesting that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) be renegotiated and expressing vague reservations about the pending free-trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.

Soon after Obama's inauguration, however, the administration organized high-level visits to Latin America and the Caribbean and announced various initiatives toward

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