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IPDAL publishes a preliminary analysis of the statements and intentions expressed by the new President of the United States in relation to Latin America.

Joe Biden began his term in office on January 20, 2021 and, in a short time, he has already left signs of how he intends to conduct the country’s relationship with its Latin American neighbors over the next four years. It is worth remembering that Biden was Barack Obama’s main emissary for the region (2009-2017) and that, during the presidential campaign, the Democrat promised to reinvigorate the relationship with the continental axis, creating high expectations regarding his next steps.

In fact, on the first day after taking office, Joe Biden signed a set of executive orders that reflect a redirection towards the previous administration’s foreign policy, especially with regard to issues that directly impact the Latin American community. We are referring to measures such as the immediate freeze on funding for the border wall with Mexico, the dismantling of certain migration restrictions or changes in the stance on deportations and asylum requests, which signal Biden’s desire to reestablish good ties with the region and to welcome migrants into their communities, with the promise that the processes will be more humane and peaceful.

Additionally, the president appointed Colombian Juan Sebastian Gonzalez as national advisor for security issues in the Western Hemisphere, sending a message that they intend to work on the most urgent and priority issues concerning the country and Latin America, such as the resumption of multilateral consultation , the fight against corruption and drug trafficking, the climate crisis and the recovery of countries from the damage of the pandemic. This agenda, which crosses domestic and regional interests, includes other relevant proposals that concern an economic support fund for the “Northern Triangle” (composed of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras), the impasses of the Venezuelan crisis and normalization of relations with Cuba.

According to experts, despite the positive outlook, the resumption of the United States’ good relationship with its Latin American neighbors will be difficult and will require overcoming several obstacles, many of them left by the Trump administration. The promotion and reaffirmation of democracy, human rights, and the strengthening of the rule of law must also form the basis of this relationship so that policies aimed at the region are effective, especially given the growing incidence of nationalist populism that is plaguing some of the countries in question. . Another challenge for the United States will be to base its foreign policy in the region on the balance of “leadership by example”, respecting the sovereignty of States in the face of any possibility of imperialist practices.

Biden’s election offers a new possibility of mutual understanding of interests and priorities within the American continent. In this sense, the Democrat’s administration could represent a valuable opportunity to redefine the relationship between the US and Latin American countries, as well as regional approaches to migration, trade, security and environment issues. This time, Latin America seems to have a partner who does not see his hemisphere as his fiefdom, but rather as a strategic base, with whom he shares objectives and interests. In fact, this year, the President should revive the three-annual Summit of the Americas, which presents itself as an opportunity to develop common causes.

Joe Biden, less threatening and more appeasing than his predecessor, revealed his desire to end the “incompetence” of the previous administration in the region, providing the return of a foreign policy based on values. To do this, he will have to use the “stick” and the “carrot”, but from a very different perspective from that which Barack Obama had and of which he himself is aware: it is not about exporting democracy, as it should not be an end and, yes, a means.

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