News

    Panetta Reaches Out to Latin American Partners

    Luis Ramirez

    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta heads to South America as part of Washington’s efforts to build partnerships in the region in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.  But the U.S. defense chief will also deal with the backlash of the scandal involving U.S. security personnel and Colombian prostitutes.

    It is a region that is often out of U.S. headlines. But now, the worry that drug and human smuggling networks in the area may turn into a terrorist corridor is driving U.S. leaders to point their attention South.

    This month, President Barack Obama attended the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, and his Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, is paying visits to Colombia, Brazil, and Chile - nations with which Washington has longstanding partnerships.

    “This is a way of making contact and dealing with the region at a time when there’s growing concern over the ability of many countries to be able to handle the threat posed by transnational crime and, specifically, drug trafficking organizations,” said Steve Johnson, a former Pentagon official specializing in Latin America.

    One U.S. concern is Venezuela’s military buildup and the country’s partnership with Iran.  

    Reports of the deteriorating health of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and the country’s elections this year have Washington watching for signs of instability.  

    Venezuela is not on Panetta’s itinerary, but analysts expect it to be an underlying factor in his meetings.

    “The important thing is not to overplay it, to give more importance to it than it really deserves, but at the same time to take it seriously so that when we deal with other countries we might be able to encourage them to keep an eye on it, to cooperate with us in trying to have a better understanding of what is going on,” Johnson said.

    The U.S. defense secretary goes to Colombia days after allegations that U.S. military personnel, along with Secret Service agents assigned to guard President Obama, solicited prostitutes they met at a strip club in Cartagena - the site of the summit.

    Some in Colombia complain the affair distracted attention from the meeting.

    The U.S. military’s top officer, General Martin Dempsey, called it an embarrassment.

    “We let the boss down because nobody’s talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident,” Dempsey said.

    Panetta hopes to turn attention back to the issues of drug trafficking and anti-terror efforts.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Jacques
    April 22, 2012 4:41 PM
    Reaching out, but with Colombia turned into a scandal I bet that no one will ever have to confirm or deny that when the US named it's drug agency DEA some special interest was playing around with the Gilbert Vernam cypher. What a scandal that would be? I mean if you could allege that political targeting was an intended consequence that worked very well to destabilize both Central & South America.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora