After weeks of fear of fiasco and threats of boycott, the US government Joe Biden It arrives at the ninth edition of the Summit of the Americas, in Los Angeles, with the expectation of turning the event into a turning point in the international politics of United StateDespite the losses and disagreements between the participants.
Americans see the event as an opportunity to “build a new agenda and a new understanding of what is important to the American continent today,” former US ambassador to Brazil Thomas Shannon told BBC News Brazil.
But not only. Faced with competition with China for influence in the region and tension with Russia, amid the Ukraine war, the summit represents an opportunity for Americans to unite the continent around the leadership of Democrat Biden, who will make at least five statements accompanied by them. their peers, with policies and plans on topics such as environmental conservation, climate change, democracy and pandemic resilience. Migration and the strengthening of production and supply chains will also be up for discussion.
In its stated goals, the Summit of the Americas organized by the Americans reflects the ideas of the so-called Monroe Doctrine, with its ideal of “America for Americans”. The ideology, launched in 1823, to preach the non-interference of Europeans in their former colonies on the continent, has received various interpretations over the centuries, but it has always boiled down to the idea that Americans sought political supremacy (or intervention) over the continent.
“This rhetoric is still there, but in practice the US has lost the main narratives in the region, its legitimacy is shaken by the crisis of its democracy, and the government does not have the means to compete with the Chinese in infrastructure investments and innovation, which has remained clear with the Huawei case,” he says. Oliver Stoenkel, professor of international relations at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, pointing to the Chinese tech giant that will be important in 5G networks for countries in the region, such as Brazil, despite the Americans’ attempts to get Latinos to exclude Huawei from their operations.
Judging by the bumpy road that takes part of the region’s leaders to California in the second week of June, the symbolic and practical consequences of the event for the United States remain in doubt.
The main absentee from the event, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, better known as AMLO, She kept her promise not to participate in the summit if the governments of Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela were not invited to attend as well.
The United States refused to send invitations to Nicaraguan teams Daniel Ortega, Cuban Miguel Diaz-Canel and Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro, whom Washington has described as dictators and human rights abusers. In the United States, the Cuban and Venezuelan diaspora have political and decisive power in disputes such as the parliamentary midterm elections, which will be held in November. Biden’s advocacy for the rulers of these countries will go down poorly in societies.
‘America for Americans’: The Monroe Doctrine advocates that domination of the continent should belong to the United States – Image: GETTY IMAGES/Via BBC
Exclusion has given some leaders in the region, especially those on the left, the ability to confront the Americans and pick up points in their domestic politics by taking a stand against the White House’s decision, such as AMLO.
He gave the Chinese a chance to bite Washington. Aren’t Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela countries in the Americas? Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman mocked Zhao Lijian.
White House Task Force
The White House has tried to downplay the importance of AMLO’s absence. On the one hand, US officials said that the summit could still succeed without him. On the other hand, the Biden administration has launched a real first-class task force to attract representatives to California.
Vice President Kamala Harris has been sent to Honduras to meet with newly elected Chiyomara Castro, who has already announced that she will only send her foreign minister to the meeting.
Biden’s envoy, former Senator Christopher Dodd, was in Brasilia to deliver a “personal message” from the White House resident about the importance of Bolsonaro’s presence in Los Angeles. After a year and a half in power, Biden also offered Bolsonaro the first opportunity for direct interaction between leaders. In the bilateral meeting, Bolsonaro, who was upset about not receiving the US president earlier, changed after he questioned the US elections in 2020, and decided to attend the event.
Biden himself also spent 25 minutes on the phone last week persuading Argentine President Alberto Fernandez to travel to Los Angeles, which was also protesting the exclusion of the three countries.
The US president’s wife, first lady Jill Biden, has embarked on a tour of Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica to lure presidents who are reluctant to attend the meeting, which was set up by the US in 1994.
In total, about half of the representatives of the Americas will be in Los Angeles. In addition to AMLO, there are other notable absences such as the leaders of Bolivia (Louis Ars), Honduras (Xiomara Castro) and Uruguay (Lacal Poe), who contracted the Covid-19 virus on the eve of the event.
Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador at an event in Mexico City in 2020 – Photo: REUTERS/Henri Romero
“That Americans have to make this kind of effort to get people to the top shows weakness rather than strength. For many years, Latin America has been much less of a priority in US foreign policy. Now Latin presidents have written on the wall that they are showing weakness rather than strength. For many years, Latin America has been a priority in US foreign policy,” says Daniela Campello, professor of politics at the FGV. “I don’t see Americans with such urgency,” said the Wilson Center scholar.
For Stoenkel, luring Bolsonaro to the top freed the Americans from the “humiliation” of seeing themselves without the major countries (Brazil and Mexico) at their event. So is the comparison with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who, just two weeks before launching the invasion of Ukraine, drew both Bolsonaro and Fernandez to Moscow. “But in practice, Americans are adjusting to a new situation where Latin America is becoming less dependent on Washington than before,” says Stoenkel.
International policy analysts suggest that Biden may face his last chance to prove his ability to positively alter the relationship between the United States and Latin America.
“Biden has failed to show that he is very different from Trump for the region,” says Ryan Berg, Latin America scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
According to Berg, having promised a fresh look at Latin America in the campaign, Biden failed to significantly alter the dynamics of US relations with the region. His immigration policies differed little from those of his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Latin governments resent the lack of an economic plan from the United States to save the continent, in crisis even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. They noted that the distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 in the region was carried out first by China, and only then by the United States.
Trump, whose electoral slogan was “America First,” which included the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico to prevent immigration, has not established close ties with Latin America. Many international analysts attribute to this power vacuum the rapid growth of China’s presence in the region.
Breaking the tradition of its silent diplomacy, Beijing accused the Americans of wanting to impose its agenda on all Latin nations by coordinating the guests and agenda of the Summit of the Americas. “The United States spoke in the Americas for the Americans, but only spoke for the American people,” said spokesman Zhao.
Criticism of China finds echoes in Latin America. It is common to hear from South American diplomats that the United States only wants to discuss the issue of immigration from the perspective of the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador), which has nothing to do with the reality of Brazil. and Colombia, for example, which received huge numbers of Venezuelans. On the other hand, the Americans showed little tolerance for Brazilian demands, such as an end to the use of handcuffs for Brazilian deportees on US flights back to Brazil.
Like Trump, Biden has found it difficult to look at the region not only in terms of his domestic politics — and what may or may not satisfy Florida’s conservative Latino voters — and understand that there is no unification on the continent’s issues. According to Thomas Shannon, American diplomacy should attend the event willing to listen, not just talk.
For US diplomat Michael McKinley, former ambassador to Brazil, Colombia and Peru, it is precisely these old mistakes that the current summit is in danger of failing.
“Despite the Biden administration’s efforts to outline a new and positive vision for engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean, old problems are likely to emerge at the upcoming Summit of the Americas. A region with a more skeptical view of Washington and its intentions contributes to these tensions. A new American perspective is needed— A perspective that takes more into account the region’s diversity, priorities, and political complexity. Without this shift, perception and reality of US influence are likely to deepen,” McKinley wrote in an article for the United States Institute of Peace.
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