Putin is happy about Biden’s disaster summit: Meanwhile, a new refugee caravan is marching towards the USA
The US President wanted to rally his southern neighbors behind him at the “Summit of the Americas”. That shouldn’t work.
Joe Biden would have liked to use the “Summit of the Americas” to strengthen his “democratic alliance” against the autocratic threat. Instead, the America summit, for which the heads of state and government of North, Central and South America are meeting in Los Angeles starting today, threatens to become a PR disaster for the US President. The largest political event in the western hemisphere should have become a platform of unity. But Biden’s decision to uninvite the undemocratic leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela is causing bad blood in Latin America.
The heads of state of Bolivia and Mexico, Luis Arce and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, went furthest. They are boycotting the summit in protest. The new left-wing president Xiomara Castro from Honduras is also staying away from the meeting.
Those in power in Moscow and Beijing should be particularly pleased. It’s a pleasure to watch from the government halls there as American support in Latin America is gradually crumbling. Almost two dozen Latin American countries have already joined the Chinese mega-project “New Silk Road”. Beijing is now the most important trading partner for Brazil, Chile and Peru. Since 2005, China has lent 130 billion euros to the region.
And Russia also showed its friendly side – for example with free vaccination deliveries at the peak of the pandemic. To date, not a single country in South America has imposed sanctions on Moscow in connection with the Ukraine war. The heads of state of heavyweights like Brazil and Mexico have not even criticized Putin for his war of aggression.
The current migration problems are in the foreground
For its part, the United States has done little to counter Beijing and Moscow’s friendly advances towards Latin America. The participants shouldn’t expect too much from the America Summit either. Instead of talking about specific trade agreements, the White House wants to talk much more about the current migration problems.
In Washington’s eyes, the continent is primarily a problem child. It is better to save the economic flirtations for the Asian region. Biden launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework in May. The initiative aims to tie 13 Asian countries closer to America economically with attractive deals.
New refugee caravan worries Biden
So it’s no wonder that the air ahead of the America Summit in Los Angeles is primarily tense. “Latin American governments want to show Washington that it’s no longer sitting at the head of the table,” said Brian Winter, editor of Americas Quarterly magazine. In addition, the resistance of the Latinos shows the increased self-confidence of some states towards Washington, which for decades regarded Latin America as its “backyard” and treated it accordingly.
The summit was actually supposed to emphasize Washington’s new commitment to Latin America and deliberately mark the difference to Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump. Trump was the first US President to stay away from the triennial summit. However, with the looming peak of discord, it will be difficult to constructively address the urgent challenges facing the continent. On the one hand, there is the economic recession, but also the ongoing issues of environmental destruction and the ongoing refugee crisis.
Especially on the last topic, without the participation of the Mexican President and the Honduran head of state, any regional agreement is worthless: the two countries provide the bulk of the migrants. And Mexico is the last transit country before the USA: For Biden, a regional migration agreement is important domestically before the American midterm elections in November. The American media are now reporting on a new “caravan” of around 10,000 refugees who have made their way to the US border.