What the Summit of Americas Means for the United States – Press Enterprise

The Summit of the Americas — which brings together the leaders of countries in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean — comes at a time when the United States urgently needs to support our American allies given China’s recent advances. in the region and the evolving migrant crisis on our southern border.

Still, the chaos leading up to the Summit was frankly a humiliation for the Biden administration and a sign that the United States no longer plays two key roles – the economic superpower and the standard-bearer of democracy – in the region.

The Biden administration declared that only “democratically elected leaders” would be invited to the summit – with the exception of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela – which has led to the threat of heads of state from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Honduras, Guatemala and other countries. for a boycott, setting the stage for a diplomatic crisis.

Aside from being embarrassing for the Biden administration – and the US – what does this mean for the United States?

First and foremost, the widespread criticism of the Summit invitees is proof that the United States is no longer the dominant international power, even in our own backyard.

For years, Latin American and Caribbean countries have sensed the waning US interest in the region and cultivated closer ties with China, whose government is now seeking to exploit this brewing diplomatic conflict.

“Aren’t Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela countries in America?” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, asked in a Global Times article.

Certainly, China has managed to gain a foothold in America, thanks in large part to their economic generosity in the region. China is now South America’s largest trading partner – surpassing the United States – and is a major source of both foreign direct investment and loans in key economic sectors, including energy and infrastructure.

In the same vein, Russia also has a strong presence in the region, including with Venezuela and Cuba. Recently, Russia has been working to increase its wider diplomatic and militaristic influence in America through efforts such as vaccine diplomacy, political recognition and enhanced trade and security agreements. Between 2006 and 2016, trade between Russia and Latin America increased by 44 percent.

The United States is rightly concerned that China and Russia have used their economic power in Latin America to achieve their own geopolitical goals of strengthening authoritarian regimes and undermining democracy.

Which brings us to the second implication of the Summit’s resistance: there is a disturbing, growing deviation from democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean. This is part of a wider trend of freedom and democratic values ​​retreating — and autocratic values ​​gaining — around the world.

Indeed, Venezuela’s democracy was eroded decades ago and recent reform moves have been stifled. Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega, won his fourth election last year, which has been deemed fraudulent by dozens of countries and the European Union. Furthermore, Cuba’s response to widespread anti-government protests in 2021 has been mass arrests and detentions.

Even Brazil, which was part of the Summit, has a far-right populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has cast doubt on the election process and spread both political and misinformation about Covid-19. Furthermore, Haiti is still in turmoil after the assassination of the country’s president.

Given the democratic crisis in America, it is clear that the United States urgently needs a new strategy and approach to the region.

The United States’ long-standing focus on the export of democracy, migration and illegal drugs, while still relevant, is not enough.

China has been able to increase its influence in America by addressing the economic and quality of life challenges these countries face: poverty, inequality and infrastructure, and public safety. The United States must prioritize these interests and we must reconnect with the region.

In order for the United States to rebuild our bridges with Latin American and Caribbean countries – and become a dominant force again in the region and in the world – we must lead by example.

Certainly, this recession of democracy in Latin America and around the world has been made possible – in part – by the internal disarray with our own democracy here at home.

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