Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Question to The Presidential Candidates

Tonight, the two presidential candidates will hold their second debate. I was asked by The Washington Post to ask a question that I would like answered by Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama if Miami hosted tonight’s town-hall-style presidential debate. After much thought, I decided to ask them about how they would address Anti-American populism expanding in Latin American, a subject that has been virtually absent from the Campaign debate, in spite of the fact that these troubling events are happening in our own backyard.
My question, along with that of several other mayors, was published today in the Post’s Topic A section. You can read my question below. We will have to wait until tonight to find out if the candidates answer it.

Four years ago, a foreign policy debate between George Bush and John Kerry was held in Miami, a city whose population is over 60 percent foreign-born and that is truly a cultural and commercial hub to Latin America and the Caribbean. Throughout the debate and the campaign, events in the Western Hemisphere were never mentioned. In the current campaign season, this has not changed.
Anti-American populism is expanding in our back yard. Venezuela's Hugo Chávez holds joint military exercises with Russia and expels U.S. diplomats. Evo Morales of Bolivia and Manuel Zelaya of Honduras follow suit. In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega decries American imperialism. Regional economies continue to falter while Chinese investment greatly increases. Meanwhile, Haiti disintegrates under crushing poverty, and a military dictatorship continues to rule in Cuba.
We worry about events half a world away while we generally ignore the world to our south.
What will your comprehensive policy be toward this hemisphere? Will you support existing and proposed free-trade agreements, and what impact might these have on our economy and that of the region? Which countries would you add to the visa waiver list, thus increasing tourism and economic ties? How will you address the underlying causes in the region that drive migration to the United States?
Finally, what do you propose to assure that anti-Americanism is replaced with neighborly mutual understanding and the spread of democracy in this hemisphere?


Mayor of Miami and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors”

Read the whole article in The Washington Post.