Here's a link to the Orange County Register's editorial on President Bush's current trip to Latin America. We conclude that it is largely a waste. Even though the administration denied it, everybody saw it as an "anti-Chavez" trip, designed to reduce the influence of the Venezuelan caudillo. If anything, however, it enhanced Chavez's profile, as almost anybody could have predicted.
By stressing how much more the U.S. is giving in aid to Latin America, Bush reinforced the notion that Latin America is poor because the U.S. is stingy, whereas the main problem is addiction to "crony capitalism" that benefits mainly the politically connected. Latin America should give genuinely free markets a try, but President Bush (to put it mildly) is not the guy to deliver a nuanced message.
On a personal note, I was chagrined to see pictures of Brazilian president Lula da Silva being hugged by President Bush. Everyone in our office remarks that Da Silva looks just like me, and I got a few good-natured questions this morning about where I had been over the weekend when photos of Da Silva were on almost every front page.