And here's how Chris's enlightened colleagues in the Beltway Media view a map of the world (kidding, maybe). In case anyone wonders why I should refer to these narcissistic IDIOTS (besides the obvious, whenever they open their mouths) as the IDIOT PUNDITOCRACY:Central America (Spanish: América Central or Centroamérica) is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent. Central America consists of the seven states of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Central America is part of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot, which extends from northern Guatemala through central Panama. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, the North Pacific Ocean to the west, and Colombia to the south-east.
It should be noted that while Chris was most impressed by the "centrist" president of Colombia (he can't help it, harkening back to when Chris was a Goldwater Republican), South America's booming democracies are driven by governments of the left — the few center-right outliers being Colombia, Peru, and, arguably Chile (following the leftist government of Michele Bachelet, who was tortured by Henry Kissinger's Frankenstein, the monster Gen. Augusto Pinochet). The others, Mexico and El Salvador, ahem ... are in North and Central America. While Chris might be "stunned" by the Latin American democracies' commitment to openness and free markets, to bringing people up from the bottom — the "base of the pyramid"— this is the very cornerstone of progressive politics.
Surprise, surprise, Chris. Once the beacon of freedom and democracy, America is lurching backward toward turn-of-the-19th Century income inequality and genuine oligarchy, proposing a transfer of wealth from the bottom to the very stratified top, cloaked in a mythical ideology that has never worked and when applied in the real world has failed catastrophically. By contrast, the democracies of South America represent the results-oriented creed of liberal, progressive politics, which has always worked in the real world to promote the greater good and growing prosperity for all peoples. The principles of American democracy and the U.S. Constitution are under siege by the right wing and the Republican Party — the new oligarchy — but are alive and well in South America. Vibrantly so.
Yet, Chris wouldn't be Chris without stubborn adherence to old, reactionary notions, once again referring to tiny Cuba, with a population about the size of New York City, as the "BIG non-democracy down there." Typical U.S. bully lingo reflecting the calcified attitudes of old Cold Warriors in the Cuban-American community, the most privileged "immigrants" in America. By any measure of comparison among the wider Latino community and outside our borders, Cuban-Americans are inordinately influential beyond their actual numbers. They hold the key to Florida presidential politics. One might even say that Cuban-Americans are the closest thing to a special interest community with corporate privileges as "corporations are people" that have so distorted our politics following the Citizens United decision. Florida's Cuban-American community is a perfect example of the "tail wagging the dog"— in which provincial presidential politics trumps wider United States regional, geopolitical and Latin American policy interests.
Chris claims "Cuba has all the power in the world" to join the community of democracies in the hemisphere. But the United States has all the power in the world to normalize relations with Cuba and end its crippling, counterproductive economic embargo of the small island-nation. Every other nation in the Americas has normalized relations with Cuba, including Canada, which, despite siding with the U.S. in barring Cuba's participation in the Summit of the Americas, has normal relations with Cuba and trade totaling almost $1 billion.
If you ask South America's leaders, Chris, the consensus is that the embargo is irrational, short-sighted domestic politics at the expense of the benefit to all the Americas that an opening to Cuba, rapprochement and lifting of the embargo would bring. South American leaders regard the U.S. as a boorish, slow to change bully which must be led by the hand to do the right thing. Nothing would boost the prospects of democracy in Cuba more than lifting the embargo, thus removing the regime's singular pretext for resisting democratic reforms — the colossal "Yanqui" threat to its north, which is real in that it has tried to assassinate Fidel Castro and undermine his government on countless occasions. It's a stupid and unsightly remnant of the Cold War that must end.