Saturday , April 10 2021

Will Biden bring meaningful change to US policy on Latin America?

Mexico Metropolis, Mexico – As many citizens throughout main United States cities poured into the streets on Saturday to rejoice a win for President-elect Joe Biden, the streets of the Mexican capital retained their ordinary hum of metropolis noise.

However relaxation assured, specialists say, whereas the individuals right here will not be actively celebrating, the information represents a welcome change of rhetoric relating to the nation and a White Home that sees Mexicans not as “rapists and criminals,” however as “associates and neighbours.”

For a lot of Latin American leaders, Biden’s electoral victory represents a return to a extra civilised age, and aid appears to be the sentiment most generally shared.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez was among the many first to supply congratulations to Biden, going one step additional and tweeting his praise for the American individuals in exercising their proper to vote in file numbers.

In Central America, as Hurricane Eta dumped heavy rains and sparked lethal flooding and mudslides, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez took the time to supply his well wishes, calling Biden’s victory a “triumph that strengthens American democracy”.

Even Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro offered a renewed willingness to dialogue with the incoming administration.

But whereas a number of leaders applauded former Vice President Biden’s victory, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador remained suspiciously silent.

Mexico holds again

Sources near Lopez Obrador have stated the Mexican president’s silence is an try to keep away from frightening US President Donald Trump earlier than his tenure within the White Home is over.

“With regard to the US election, we’re going to wait till all of the authorized issues have been resolved,” Lopez Obrador stated at a information convention. “I can’t congratulate one candidate or the opposite. I wish to wait till the electoral course of is over.”

It’s a tactic that’s come to characterise the form of tight-rope diplomacy political leaders in Mexico have been pressured to undertake when coping with the US, Mexico’s largest and most essential buying and selling associate.

It was a lesson that Lopez Obrador realized in 2019 when Trump threatened to slam Mexico with 25 p.c export tariffs if Mexico did not implement an immigration coverage tailor-made to US pursuits.

There may be this concept that immigration coverage will change underneath a President Biden, and that it’s going to by some means favour Mexico. I don’t see that being the case. However I do suppose we are going to see extra collaboration from the US to be able to sort out the foundation causes behind why persons are attempting to go away their international locations.

Wilma Gandoy, Technological College of Monterrey

With a Biden presidency, the tone on bilateral cooperation with Mexico with regards to immigration is anticipated to be a lot softer, although there are nonetheless questions over how this softer tone will translate into coverage.

“Traditionally, Democrats have been extra pleasant of their discourse,” stated Wilma Gandoy, a Mexican diplomat and professor of worldwide relations on the Technological College of Monterrey. “However even [former President Barack] Obama was one of many presidents who deported the most individuals.”

“There may be this concept that immigration coverage will change underneath a President Biden, and that it’s going to by some means favour Mexico. I don’t see that being the case,” she added. “However I do suppose we are going to see extra collaboration from the US to be able to sort out the foundation causes behind why persons are attempting to go away their international locations.”

Return to multilateralism

Identical to in 2016, many individuals in Latin America paid very shut consideration to the 2020 US election, although the coronavirus pandemic stays essentially the most urgent concern within the area and all through the world.

Many hope a return to multilateralism couldn’t solely carry a few extra swift finish to the outbreak, but additionally right important setbacks in human rights points which have been made worse by the unfold of COVID-19.

The Trump administration has pressured tens of hundreds of individuals searching for security on the border to attend in harmful and precarious situations.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty Worldwide

In Colombia, one of the vital essential strategic companions for the US, Biden may demand that authorities pay extra consideration to human rights abuses. Within the final yr, greater than 100 human rights activists have been killed, however it has garnered little or no pushback from officers throughout the Trump administration.

Trump’s bellicose stance towards the socioeconomic and political disaster in Venezuela may additionally give option to a negotiated political answer underneath the brand new Democratic administration.

Work to be achieved

For Mexico and the nations of northern Central America reminiscent of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Trump’s defeat represents a reversal of insurance policies that many human rights observers say have stretched the boundaries of worldwide legislation.

“The Trump administration has pressured tens of hundreds of individuals searching for security on the border to attend in harmful and precarious situations,” stated Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director for Amnesty Worldwide.

Underneath the controversial “Stay in Mexico” coverage, the Trump administration strong-armed the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras into signing a collection of agreements which have pressured tens of hundreds of asylum seekers to stay in their very own international locations whereas their circumstances are heard by US authorities.

The Trump administration’s ‘Stay in Mexico’ coverage has been criticised by human rights teams [File: Paul Ratje/Reuters]

“In search of asylum is a human proper,” stated Guevara-Rosas, including that underneath Trump, hundreds of individuals have been saved in immigration detention or separated from their households.

These situations have served “to perpetrate human rights violations that, it’s true, usually are not new to the USA, however have been exacerbated by the Trump administration over time,” she defined. “So we’re organising very clear suggestions across the asylum system that we imagine the Biden administration will actually need to prioritise.”

If Twitter is any barometer, the sense is that Latin American leaders are optimistic about their future relationships with the US.

Many others within the area are celebrating the file voter turnout within the US elections as a victory in itself, one which units an essential instance for a area of the world the place presidential elections aren’t at all times truthful or free.

However this doesn’t imply the incoming Biden administration received’t face challenges in mending relationships with allies and companions in Latin America.

Biden has inherited a US picture tarnished by 4 years of racist rhetoric and hurtful insurance policies towards Latin America’s most susceptible residents, and repairing that picture might be one in every of his first challenges when he units foot again contained in the White Home.



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