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Former Peruvian president urges U.S. presidential candidates not to take Latin America for granted; says good partnerships depend on it

By Scott Gamm

The 2016 U.S. presidential election is heating up and former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo has a message for the next Commander in Chief: Take Latin America seriously.

“I don’t want to get into internal U.S. politics,” Toledo said. “But I do urge today’s president and the future president not to take Latin America [for granted]. Take a close look to the [southern hemisphere] and the U.S. will find a natural partnership that we’ve had for many years.”

Former Peruvian President

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo

He stressed the important contributions of Latin America especially in technology, but added the U.S. plays a role in helping Latin America improve.

The U.S. “can help us strengthen our democratic institutions in order to provide social, political and economic stability. This enables us to capture investment not only in natural resources, but [allows us] to develop a manufacturing sector with aggregate value,” Toledo said.

The political atmosphere at the top in Peru has been anything but stable in recent years. Peru’s Congress ousted Prime Minster Ana Jara last month for allegedly spying on her political adversaries. Current President Ollanta Humala will now be on the hunt for his seventh prime minister since taking office in July 2011.

Meanwhile, one bright spot amid political instability across Latin America is the improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba. President Barack Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro in April at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama.

Last December, President Obama announced several measures to improve relations between the two countries, which have been nonexistent since 1961. One of those measures includes easing travel restrictions, allowing Americans to visit Cuba under 12 circumstances, including family, educational and humanitarian reasons.

Another proposal to thaw tensions is the possibility of removing Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, which has been in place since 1982. President Obama officially announced his intention to remove the terror classification last week, though his request is subject to congressional approval.

Still, Toledo thinks the strengthening relations between the two nations is a positive sign. “Now there is an opportunity for Cuba to strengthen its economy through tourism, trade and investment,” he said.

Toledo doesn’t think trade between other Latin American countries and Cuba will be negatively affected now that the U.S. is in the picture. “It provides more tranquility and improves the quality of democracy in the regions, although there are still some outliers in the continent,” he said. “I’m hopeful more investment will come” as a result.

Credit: The Street, www.thestreet.com