Chinese President Hu Jintao begins a Latin America tour on Monday, taking in Costa Rica, Cuba and Peru, as China tightens economic ties and the region hopes for help in tougher times.
Hu's visit to Costa Rica is the highest-level visit by a Chinese official to the first Central American country to break off Taiwan ties in favor of China, in June last year.
Taiwan is now left with only a small circle of 23 international supporters, most of them tiny, poor nations, while Beijing commands the support of 171 nations.
"It's more than just symbolic that Hu Jintao has decided to come, because it is clearly making the point that it is no longer a Taiwanese stronghold," said Costa Rican analyst Luis Guillermo Solis.
Both Taiwan and China have been accused of using so-called "dollar diplomacy" to get nations to ally with them.
But China's economic might is hard to compete with, especially in tough economic times.
Part of China's incentives to Costa Rica came from China's enormous foreign exchange reserves with an offer to buy 300 million dollars in bonds.
Many wonder if Costa Rica's neighbors will be tempted to follow its move.
Inflamed with imperialist verve when with his peers in his own backyard, Daniel Ortega has in the U.S. a major economic partner and a firm ally in security.
An article in Elnuevodiario.com.ni notes that President Daniel Ortega went in a week from asserting "... the government of Panama to be a 'spokesman for interests of the empire', referring to the United States and regarding its position on the situation of violence in Venezuela" to deporting " ... the Cuban American Ana Sol Alliegro, wanted by the FBI for illegal campaign donations, among other crimes. "
A scruffy old man is running around America preaching the same disconnection with the real world that made him a complete failure as the president of Uruguay.
On his way through the Latin American capitals, crowds applaud his coffee shop philosophy, while others who have specific responsibilities in life are surprised at the inconsistencies of the former Uruguayan president.
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