Bush leaves for Latin America, minus cash

Dan Grech Mar 8, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW: President Bush and the first lady left this morning for Latin America. They’ll land in Brazil first, then make stops in Colombia, Uruguay, Guatemala and Mexico. Bush says the trip is to remind Latin Americans the U.S. cares about them and their social and economic well-being. But his proposed budget might send a slightly different message. Dan Grech reports from our Americas Desk at WLRN.

DAN GRECH: In the run-up to his six-day trip, Bush touted his spending on aid to Latin America.

PRESIDENT BUSH: When I came into office, the United States was sending about $860 million a year in foreign aid to Latin America and the Caribbean. Last year, we nearly doubled that amount.

But his proposed 2008 budget cuts foreign direct assistance to the region by more than 8 percent. That includes $70 million less in development aid and a $36 million cut in child health programs.

John Price of InfoAmericas says Bush is hoping his trip will send a message that the U.S. cares about the plight of the poor in Latin America.

JOHN PRICE: What they didn’t check on was whether the budget tallies reflect that message, and clearly they don’t. And so it’s created this egg on their face.

Even so, Bush did announce this week new initiatives on housing and education for the region.

I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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