The President of the US, Donald Trump, is developing a new Foreign Policy which involves a protectionist and conservative management. In this context, some days ago he presented a new budget for the Latin America issues, in which he will cut around a 36 percent (in average) of the previous stablished budget. Adaptation to the climate change, the reduction of poverty, migration and regional security are the main issues that are being readjusted.
By: Felipe Ríos Neusa
In order to understand the near future with the US, it’s possible to mention a couple of examples about this new policy towards Latin America:
Bilateral relation with Mexico is a very important issue, meanly because its border with the US is a zone of illegal immigration and illegal business like the traffic of drugs and weapons. One of Trump’s promises is to stop this phenomenon with a long wall in the US-Mexico border to reorient the employment market and arrest the “bad hombres” that try to cross the border illegally or help others to do that. But, some analysts has said that it wouldn’t have success since the problem is so complex and so extended that this solution is not a real one.
The wall has not had positive reception in the governments of the region; recently the CELAC (acronym in Spanish for “Latin America and Caribbean States Community”) summit called the US president to respect migrants’ human rights. The solution is not the wall, it is the solidarity, humanity, building of peace and respect to the right of human mobility.
In addition, last June 16th in Miami, where there was a big group of Cuban voters, Trump cancelled the Obama’s previous foreign relation with the Cuban government. But the relation with Cuba has a wide field of implications because of its condition as a historical and representative regional actor.
Obama’s bilateral relation had involved important topics around cooperation against drugs and human trafficking, tourism, appeasing the political relation with Latin America, geopolitical issues related with the Russian and Chinese armed presence in the continent and so on.
This “new” Trump’s policy changes the rules; the useless “embargo” has not worked inasmuch as nationalized companies never came back to the United States and the Cuban regime has not been isolated. So, if the United States maintains sanctions over the island, it won’t get big economic and political changes with Cuba and it never will get good relationship with the region.
And China and Europe?
But there is more here. The rise of China to a higher position in the world is becoming a problem to the United States. In campaign, Trump used to criticize the relationship with China, but until now he has not proceeded with an organized policy to stop the arrival of China to Latin America.
The Chinese loans and investments in different countries along the Latin American region and the support of the BRICS are evidence of its commercial and diplomatic deployment (1). Instead of make America Great Again, we are going to watch “China great again” and Latin American countries have to take advantage of this situation.
Likewise Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, recently visit Argentina and Mexico with a special purpose: be the alternative to lead the western world and displace the United States (2).
In this way we are watching strategic movements and how the international big players are shuffling the cards in the geopolitical and commercial global scenario.
The opportunity to face the world
The previous facts show us that the United States is making a policy which takes distance with Latin America, discouraging cooperation ties and overcoming domestic problems first. It’s cutting down on its regional presence.
On the other hand, an historical fact to Latin America has been the peace process between the Colombian Government and the biggest Colombian guerrilla, FARC-EP. It’s important because Latin America is encouraging peace and is trying to solve problems like the internal migration, poverty and inequality. Of course the continent still has serious drawbacks. The point is that Latin American countries could play an important international role if they get a real peace in a chaotic world.
With the new Trump’s Foreign Policy and with the world political transition, Latin America has the opportunity to do another path and face the world beyond the United States hegemony. Chiefly, the continent has to understand the value of integration because facing the world, solving poverty and improving democracy depend on Latin America itself. The region doesn’t have to wait anything from the United States, and its hegemonic drop is offering a space to a new approach towards the world.