World Citizen: Latin America’s Tempered Obama-Mania

World Citizen: Latin America’s Tempered Obama-Mania

When throngs of Brazilians take to the streets of Rio de Janeiro next month for the famous Carnival, Barack Obama will be there, dancing to the sultry beat of the samba. Obama masks are all the rage as preparations for the Carnival kick into high gear. When the party starts, hundreds, maybe thousands of Brazilians with Obama masks will hit the streets. Not surprisingly, the new president of the United States has become a celebrity in Latin America, just as he has in the rest of the planet.

While at times it seems the entire globe is cheering Obama in unison, in Latin America, Obama-mania has a different pitch. To be sure, there was excitement, even exuberance, on Inauguration Day, when the presidency of George W. Bush ended and the first African-American president came to power in Washington. But the good feelings were tempered by indications that the region figures far down the long list of Obama's priorities.

During the inaugural speech, as the brand new president made many direct and indirect allusions to different parts of the world, it was difficult to pinpoint where exactly Latin America could hear its name called. For many in the region, the magic of the moment survived, but expectations did not soar.

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