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DoD Frank Mora on U.S. Security and Defense policies for The Americas.

Dr. Frank O. Mora presently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, one of the three components of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs. In this position he oversees policy issues and defense relations involving countries in the hemisphere as well as U.S. government funding of hemispheric defense cooperation, and the integration of U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Southern Command.

A few days ago the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense DoD for Western Hemisphere Affairs , the Cuban-American Frank Mora, came from Washigton to Miami to give a conference on security and defense policies of the U.S. to Latin America. The conference was held  in the auditorium of the Center for Political Studies in the University of Miami.

There, before a select audience of about 60 people. Mr. Mora made clear the main myths the world has on the security and defense policies of the Obama administration to Latin America and the Caribbean. His visit occurred before the first year and a half of the government’s first black president in U.S. history and fell like a glove to clear many doubts about the genuine interest that the U.S. and its new administration has to Latin America, taking note that the region lived for eight years with George W. Bush, during a period that were cataloged by Mora as cold and unfavorable.

Mora was emphatic in stating that these policies towards Latin America have been misunderstood and harshly criticized.

Mr. Mora´s conference was a great opportunity in Miami to gather Cubans and other Hispanic citizens from Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and other countries. These participants believe that the Obama administration has not complied with its policies toward Latin America and its promise of promoting immigration reform that benefits the Hispanics who do not have national identity cards and are living in the U.S.

The Assistant Secretary answered that it is totally false, that Barack Obama is not ignoring the region as many think. Mora said that the government is working daily to create individual models of working with each country and that the clearest examples are the solid U.S. relations with Brazil and Chile, which are of course very different from the administration´s policies towards Mexico and Colombia, which two are U.S. main regional allies, as a matter of speaking.

Mora was explicit in referring to the recent natural disaster in Haiti, where the United States works closely with other countries in the region to rebuild and where United States took the lead but was one more. The official said the United States no longer wants to be seen as the leader of the region and that this situation in Haiti was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that, that means that the U.S. wants to be one more among other nations assisting Haiti.

The Assistant Secretary Mora also denied that the United States had taken an inconsistent position in front of the governance problems that resulted in the resignation of President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras and recalled that thanks to U.S. intervention, they finally managed to reach an agreement to restore democracy in that country.

About what happened in Honduras, in my view it was clear that the Obama administration could not get to say that they agreed with a coup and so the U.S.  -in my opinion- wisely remained silent and watchful of what was happening in that country  and then to mediate between the confronting parties and serve as a conciliator for the final agreement that was achieved in Tegucigalpa. This point certainly was a blow to the personal interests of President Hugo Chavez of expanding his “Bolivarian” revolution in Central America.

About Colombia, Mora said that this country is without any doubt one of the strongest allies of the United States on the continent and recalled that the recent agreement signed between the two countries for the technological and logistical support in seven military bases in Colombia does not mean that the U.S. will deploy troops to Colombia. In this point it is worthwhile to recall that  in Colombia operates a U.S. diplomatic and military mission and due to the Plan Colombia the presence of U.S. military was slightly increased having as objective to support the colombian democratic government in its efforts to fight illegal drug trafficking and eradicate cocaine crops in the jungles of Colombia. In my opinion this was a valuable aid, which also allowed the government of President Uribe to reap good results in the fight against guerrillas of the FARC and the ELN.

Mora made it clear that at this point the U.S. cares little about what the neighbors might think of the U.S. support to Colombia, specially Hugo Chavez, who for months has define this military agreement as “diabolic” having the absurd idea that it is the first step to an alleged invasion of Venezuela by the “empire” -starting from Colombia-  and Mora said that he really cares about the arms race initiated by Chávez with the purchase of aircraft and weapons to Russia, as well as the dangerous relationship Venezuela has with Iran and with the leftist FARC guerrillas who gradually have become a transnational problem in the region and a source of interference and this unacceptable situation have been gaining prominence in some countries in the region.

This again makes it clear that the only intention Hugo Chavez has to try to destroy the military treaty between Colombia and the U.S. is diverting the attention from the serious social problems and lack of freedom suffered by the venezuelan people , where the most basic public services like water and electricity have been scarce for more than a year and where freedom of expression and the right to inform of the media has been censored for several years.

And last but not least, the Assistant Secretary of Defense referred to the Cuba issue and in this matter Mr. Mora was emphatic in saying that President Obama has done everything he promised in his campaign in relation to Cuba and that the U.S. has put everything in their power to approach the Cuban government with the intention to improve relations and open the possibility of a historic dialogue with the government of the Castro brothers. But Mora was concerned and said the U.S. has not received the response they expected from Cuba. Mr. Mora said that the U.S. and its Democratic administration will continue to work to find the desired change in the relations with the island.

Author Ivan Gerardo Cruz - Article published in Bloggers of The Americas

Finally,  and according to the statements of Mr. Frank Mora at the University of Miami , it is clear that the U.S. is quietly advancing a day by day job in order to create a working model with each country in the region, apparently regardless of the actual benefits that the U.S. can achieve with some of them.  Is it possible that the U.S. acts with so much kindness, generosity and selflessness? We’ll see.

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