Bloomberg, April 13, 2012

President Barack Obama leaves today for a trip to a summit in Latin America that may have as much resonance in domestic politics as in hemispheric economics.

Discussions at the meeting of North and South American leaders in the resort city of Cartagena, Colombia, will cover trade, economic growth and the battle against drug trafficking. Yet the White House is mindful that about 16 percent of U.S. residents trace their roots to the region, and that group may play an outsized role in the November presidential election…

…Latin America managed to largely escape the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Brazil (BZGDYOY%) is the world’s sixth largest economy, and the ranks of the middle class have swelled. The World Bank classifies most countries in the region as middle- income or higher. As countries in the region have grown more prosperous, they are less reliant on the U.S., the world’s biggest economy. That growth also comes as the Obama administration has made a deliberate pivot to focus more on Asia.

[President Obama] is “quite comfortable with the diminished role of the United States in the hemisphere” and that it’s “the natural order of things”

said Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center.

“The U.S. is going to continue to be engaged but no longer has the domineering authority it once did"