Latin America, forgotten by the United States


Washington, – United States policy toward Latin America has been in permanent stalemate for a long time. Washington never says that it ignores the region, on the contrary, but it cannot deny that it has other priorities in its region. Foreign Policy. Especially now, when the American hemisphere is not counted in the tireless task of recovering from the diplomatic wounds created by the previous administration, Donald Trump that tore apart the traditional foreign policy of the United States.

As expected, after the Trump era, Biden administration “It has gone back to traditional norms in foreign policy, which include Latin America,” Michael Schifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue, told this newspaper.

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It was urgent to put forward repairing relations with powerful allies, particularly in Europe and Asia. Essentially, because Washington, by abandoning its America First ideology and isolationism, needs to restore synergies from the past to confront Russia and China. It is not insignificant that Biden’s first official trip abroad was to Europe with a recent stop at a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin; Nor is it surprising that the first visits by foreign leaders to the White House were those made by the presidents of Japan and South Korea.

Biden had to start working with his message America is back, a universal message for the American continent as well. With Biden, the doors are open for a more traditional dialogue.

“There is no doubt that the Joe Biden administration is signaling a change of tone in the relations between the two countries United States, Latin America and the Caribbeane ”, wrote a few months ago by Rafael Castro-Alegria, a region expert at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA). The analyst noted that Biden promised to “correct Donald Trump’s impotence and neglect in the region.” But, he added, “the tones and degrees of meaning will not suffice if their purpose is to rise to the challenge of becoming a true partner of Latin American countries.”

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For Tom Long, professor of politics and international studies at the University of Warwick, the region is not a priority in Biden’s foreign policy, especially so early in his tenure. But in his text From Trump to Biden in Latin America, in a report on the Americas to the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), he said that “deep interdependence means that most domestic policies will have an enormous impact on the region.”

In all this time, Biden has revealed very little of his strategy for the region. “So far, there is a lack of definition in terms of strategy, which raises the priorities and the clear idea that can be achieved, given the realities and conditions in both Latin America and the United States,” Schifter adds. But he already had very important approaches. First, their interest in addressing the issue of immigration “from its roots” with investments in countries of origin, particularly in the Northern Triangle; Second, the beginning of the implementation Vaccine diplomacy., in part to counter and avoid the Chinese presence, through donations to countries such as Mexico and Brazil, among others.

Two aspects coincide in the domestic agenda. The former was particularly deep, with connections to Mexico and countries like Guatemala, where many high-ranking officials (including Vice President Kamala Harris) traveled. The question remains what position the US administration will take towards Cuba and Venezuela, but there are first steps.

In the case of the Caribbean island, the United States voted against lifting the embargo on Cuba in the annual vote on the issue at the United Nations. As for Venezuela, in recent days, the United States and its partners have been open to easing sanctions on the Maduro regime. The goal is still to use all the tools that will ensure “free and fair” elections in the South American country.

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What has been a shift, for now, is the appointment of experienced diplomats and advisers. The pace of nominations for diplomatic posts is slow. He has appointed three ambassadors for the region (Costa Rica, Paraguay and Mexico); By comparison, it actually has 12 names for the African continent. Brian Nichols, a career diplomat, has already gone through the Senate confirmation hearing for the position of Under Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere.

Beyond that, silence. Officially, Biden’s government is governed by the defense of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law on the continent’s nations. “We will make a huge mistake by not prioritizing our relationships within [Hemisferio Occidental]”, He said Mark McClarty, the former chief of staff in Bill Clinton White House, at an event organized by AS/COA in March. “I think if we do that, we will see a positive response. It will not be perfect or a straight line, but we clearly have very common interests and values ​​and we need to embrace a common vision and work towards it,” he decided.

“It is reasonable to expect other policies that go beyond domestic interests and seek concrete opportunities to collaborate with both government partners and civil society to advance the enormous economic, social and political challenges facing Latin America,” said Schefter. He decided that “an economically strong region, with less poverty and inequality, and more stable and democratic political systems, is in the interest of the United States.”

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