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US promises more than it can deliver in Latin America, experts say

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-06-08 10:36
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Photo taken on Nov. 23, 2021 shows the White House in Washington, DC, the United States. [Photo/Xinhua]

WASHINGTON - The United States has for decades promised more than it can deliver in Latin America, and is now facing a situation where it tries to get hold of a region which has traditionally been considered Washington's backyard, but which now needs it less, US experts said recently.

"The United States' reputation across the hemisphere has been in eclipse for more than two decades, largely because of the enormous gap between Washington's claim to meaningful leadership and its simultaneous indifference toward the region," wrote Michael Shifter and Bruno Binetti, two fellows at US-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue, in an article carried by the Foreign Affairs magazine on June 3.

The article came on the eve of this year's Summit of the Americas, a once-in-three-years gathering of countries in the Western Hemisphere that the United States hosts for the second time since its inception in 1994.

Being held this week in Los Angeles, the event was snubbed by leaders of several regional countries, most notably Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. They criticized the summit's lack of inclusiveness as the Joe Biden administration refused to invite leaders of countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Shifter and Binetti said in their article that the United States has overpromised Latin America on multiple fronts, from pandemic response to economic policy to other hot-button issues such as the migration crisis.

The Biden administration, they said, "took months to start donating vaccines, despite an excess of domestic supplies. The lack of attention was striking, given the massive toll the pandemic inflicted on Latin America."

Meanwhile, US economic initiatives such as Build Back Better World "are not yet fully operational." Moreover, "US officials' defense of free markets rings hollow, given the Biden administration's continuation of Trump's trade war against China and its high subsidies for American farmers that hurt Latin American products for the US market."

"The United States also lacks credibility on issues of democracy and the rule of law," the article said, citing the decades-old embargoes against Cuba that was bolstered in 2017 by former President Donald Trump, who in 2019 also slapped stiff sanctions on Venezuela.

"Plus, the United States can no longer pass itself off as a democracy worthy of emulation," the authors wrote. "The country's polarized, inward-looking politics had severely diminished its moral authority even before a democratic election was nearly overturned in January 2021."

"Nobody expects US policy toward Latin America to change overnight. Even modest improvements will require difficult and often politically contentious choices," read the article. "But unless the United States faces its credibility problem head-on, its relationship with Latin America will continue to deteriorate."

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