Obama may be sending an unintentional message that the US holds Asian countries like Myanmar and China to a lower standard on democracy and human rights.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Obama's first post-reelection trip passes through Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), and Cambodia for the ASEAN summit. The messages that Latin America hears from this trip may or may not be the ones the United States intends to send.
Burma is a military dictatorship that is less democratic and more repressive than any country in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba. Yet, they're doing better than they were a decade ago. They've released some political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi and have begun reforms to give democratically elected civilians increased power. The US has eased sanctions and the president is visiting. For a country like Cuba, it should be seen as a sign that real reforms can be met with better relations by the US and that gradual progress is possible.