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Cuba Thaw Lets Rest of Latin America Warm to Washington

In this image from TV, U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, in the rain for a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013.  The handshake between the leaders of the two Cold War enemies came during a ceremony that's focused on Mandela's legacy of reconciliation. Hundreds of foreign dignitaries and world heads of states gather Tuesday with thousands of South African people to celebrate the life, and mark the death, of Nelson Mandela who has became a global symbol of reconciliation. (AP Photo/SABC Pool)
In this image from TV, U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, in the rain for a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/SABC Pool)

BUENOS AIRES (New York Times) — President Obama has been lambasted for spying in Brazil, accused of being a warmonger by Bolivia, dismissed as a “lost opportunity” by Argentina, and taunted in Nicaragua by calls for Latin America to draw up its own list of state sponsors of terrorism — with the United States in the No. 1 spot.

But now Latin American leaders have a new kind of vocabulary to describe him: They are calling him “brave,” “extraordinary” and “intelligent.”

After years of watching his influence in Latin America slip away, Mr. Obama suddenly turned the tables this week by declaring a sweeping détente with Cuba, opening the way for a major repositioning of the United States in the region.

Washington’s isolation of Cuba has long been a defining fixture of Latin American politics, something that has united governments across the region, regardless of their ideologies. Even some of Washington’s close allies in the Americas have rallied to Cuba’s side.

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