U.S. Public Diplomacy Goes South

Karen Hughes VNRThe U.S. State Department's Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy, Karen Hughes, has "launched a campaign to make her government simpatico" to Latin America. Last month, Hughes visited Brazil, Panama, El Salvador, Chile and Colombia. She wants to make U.S. aid in the region "more visible and higher profile." Latin American countries are receiving "more money for student and youth exchange programs, as part of a worldwide effort to bring young people into the United States." Hughes explained, "I'm focused particularly on young people and those who influence them." Other changes include adding eight regional public diplomacy officers, "to write up press releases, manage cultural and student exchanges and attend speaking events," and using the State Department's "rapid-response unit" to help ambassadors respond to breaking news. A recent poll found "three out of every five Latin Americans distrust the United States."