Over the past decade, a number of Latin American leaders have admitted that the US Vice President Joe Biden has been a key mediator of Washington in important Latin American issues. In this capacity between 2009 and 2017, Biden visited the region 16 times on behalf of the Barack Obama administration. And now that he has taken office as head of state, how will the US relations with Latin American countries change?
Latin America today faces two colossal challenges at the same time: the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than half a million Latin Americans, and the worst economic collapse in a century due to a health emergency. Such a panorama can be a breeding ground for the emergence of new leaders of the left wing and an outbreak of social discontent, demonstrating instability in the subcontinent.
In his numerous interviews, Joe Biden (Joseph Robinette Biden) noted that one of the main priorities of his administration will be: combating climate change and promoting democracy, human rights and respect for state sovereignty. According to a number of experts, at the moment Latin America is not the main vector of the White House’s foreign policy. Nevertheless, Biden’s intention to “restore US global leadership” will be reflected in building a new agenda in the region, because continental stability is of great interest to Washington.
In this context, some analysts believe that the new government will take a more active position in the region than the Donald Trump administration, whose main component in Latin American countries was to curb the flow of migrants from the “backyard”. Already today, it can be noted that Joe Biden has begun to pursue a more balanced and flexible policy towards Latin America, unlike his predecessor. One of the first steps in this direction was the decision to remove Cuba from the “list” of countries supporting terrorist groups everywhere in the world, to lift sanctions on the transfer of American currency to relatives, and also to allow American tourists to visit the island state. According to experts, Biden will begin to take concrete actions to improve relations with Cuba, but this process will not be quick.
From the very beginning, the new owner of the White House defiantly overturns Trump’s decisions and rejects his proposals in order to show that he is not like the 45th President of the United States. A more flexible approach has been outlined in relation to Trump’s former nemesis, Venezuela, whose government is considered illegitimate. Until now, sanctions against individuals and the support of opposition leader Juan Guaidó (Spanish – Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez) remain, however, Biden drew attention to the fact that it is impossible to solve the accumulated problems by force methods, one should resort to the help of the Lima Group (in the which includes the majority of Latin American countries – Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay, Ecuador, etc.), created to resolve the political crisis in Venezuela in 2017. It is more likely that pressure on the regime of Nicolas Maduro (Spanish – Nicolás Maduro Moros), nevertheless with the hope of a partial softening of the course.
As for another left-wing regional leader, the Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (Spanish – José Daniel Ortega Saavedra), who has been in power since 2007, the new administration will tighten its stance on Nicaragua. Washington not only intends to closely follow the election campaign, which is scheduled for November this year, but also to send observers there.
In order to turn to relations with one of the regional giants – Mexico, it is worth recalling that Biden immediately abandoned the truly “extreme” idea of building a barrier between states to prevent illegal immigration. Andrés López Obrador (Spanish – Andrés Manuel López Obrador) became one of the two leaders of foreign countries, with whom the 46th president contacted first by phone. On January 22, in an interview, Biden and Lopez Obrador discussed cooperation on a number of bilateral issues, in particular, on regional migration. The new White House chief outlined his plan to reduce migration by addressing its root causes, expanding resettlement opportunities and legitimate alternative routes of immigration, increasing border processing of asylum requests, and abolishing the previous administration’s immigration policies. The presidents of the two countries agreed to work closely to stem the flow of illegal migration to Mexico and the United States, and recognized the importance of coordination in the fight against COVID-19.
The current government of another Latin American giant – Brazil, in turn, is forced to rebuild, given that it has established strong contact with Donald Trump. For this reason, the Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro (port – Jair Messias Bolsonaro), congratulating his colleague in writing, harshly met the idea of allocating $ 4 billion to overcome forest fires in the Amazon region, but still, after weighing all the pros and cons agreed with this proposal, as the South American country cannot cope with this problem on its own, which has attracted close attention of the world community. In addition, Joe Biden intends to significantly strengthen the fight against coronavirus, given that both states occupy leading positions in this indicator in the Western Hemisphere.
The relations with the traditional strategic ally of the United States, Colombia, will not undergo noticeable changes. But given the special attention of the current White House administration to the problem of human rights, there is no doubt that the government of Ivan Duque (Spanish – Iván Duque Márquez) will be pointed out to the unfavorable situation in this area (taking into account the recent large-scale protests in Bogota, and a number of other large cities that have turned into numerous victims). In addition, Washington will continue to build trusting ties with states that, according to the United States, adhere strictly to democratic norms that do not violate human rights. We are talking about the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Chile. By the way, Chile will soon hold a referendum on the adoption of a New Constitution, which the Biden administration will certainly be looking forward to.
To summarize, it is worth remembering that Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that “Americans should stop acting on external political landscapes and focus on their country”, as the first steps of the new administration show that Biden looks at this thesis from a different angle. The current head of state, due to his experience in the Barack Obama administration, has different views on this matter. Today it is quite obvious that the United States is again returning or trying to return to the policy of expanding its influence on a global scale, and Latin America will again become one of the dynamically developing vectors of foreign policy.