Summit of the Americas; Mexico (and others) absent, some progress.
Over the past few weeks, the news cycle has been dominated by tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texasand the January 6 House of Representatives Committee hearings. Economic uncertainty persists at home and abroad, and the Russo-Ukrainian War gets worse inflation concerns and one possible food crisis. As a result, the International Monetary Fund revise downwards its global growth projections for 2022.
The United States must also deal with geopolitical tensions. Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called China the most serious long-term threat to world order. In recent years, China’s economic presence has grown around the world, including in our own hemisphere. In 2021, China’s trade with Latin America reached over $400 billion, while the United States traded $295 billion. White & Case recently published a list of five topics related to changing global dynamics, which you can find here.
China’s growing importance in Latin America was clearly part of the last week backdropwhen the Biden administration hosted the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. This was the second time the Summit was hosted in the United States, following the first gathering convened by former President Bill Clinton in Miami in 1994. The inaugural Miami Summit aimed to forge a new relationship with the rest of the Western Hemisphere after the end of the Cold War and focused largely on free trade agreements. The third Summit held in Quebec in 2001 led to the the adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter by 34 countries in a common commitment to democracy.
The the preparation for the Ninth Summit in Los Angeles was marked by criticism on the Biden administration’s lack of strategic vision in Latin America. And the headlines on the summit itself focused heavily on the boycott by several notable heads of state, following the Biden administration’s refusal to invite undemocratic leaders from Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. You can hear more of my thoughts on this very topic in this interview I did with CBS News here.
The absence of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Central American presidents distracted from the agenda at handwhich included the pressing challenges of climate change, the migration crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy.
Especially in Los Angeles, President Biden and 19 other leaders from the region gathered the last day of the Summit for sign the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection. A hemisphere-wide framework could mark a significant change to an approach that expands legal pathways and regularization efforts in the region. But its success will depend on countries following up with concrete commitments after the Summit.
Several initial promises were made in Los Angeles. The Biden the administration announced more visas for Cubans and Haitians to reunite with their families in the United States. and revealed $1.9 billion in new private sector commitments investing in the root causes of migration in Central America. This week, Belize and Ecuador also announced new programs to provide legal status to tens of thousands of migrants, following in the traces of Colombia’s massive regularization of Venezuelans last year.
At the summit, the Biden administration also announced a regional economic recovery plan mobilize investments and launched two new regional initiatives to fight climate change and boost clean energy jobs. You may be interested in this piece published by my colleague jonathan hamilton on the role of investment and trade at the Summit.
The Summit took place in an important context elections in the hemisphere. After Colombia’s presidential elections failed to produce a majority candidate on May 29, the country is now heading for a second round of elections on June 19 between a former left-wing guerrilla and a protesting businessman. Brazil will also hold presidential elections later this year.where President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2010) are expected to be favourites.
In Mexico, López Obrador’s boycott of the Summit did not seem to impact his standing with Latin American leaders, nor do him any harm domestically. In fact, on June 5, just days before the launch of the Summit, Mexican voters headed to the polls to elect governors for six states, which were all governed by opposition parties. Morena, the party founded by López Obrador in 2014, won in four statesand now controls 20 of Mexico’s 32 governorates.
The election results indicate the expansion of Morena’s political power and the continued popularity of Lopez Obrador. Almost four years into his presidency, López Obrador has an approval rating of almost 60%. This positions the president’s party for the 2024 presidential elections, and according to a recent surveythe two top potential contenders hail from Morena, while the opposition remains sharply divided.
In July, López Obrador will travel to the White House for an in-person meeting with President Biden. In the coming months, bilateral relations will focus on the economy and migration before American midterms. Preparing for the 2024 presidential elections – which take place simultaneously in Mexico and the United States every twelve years – will be crucial. I encourage you to consult This article about Mexico 2024 by former Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Gerónimo Gutiérrez.
Here has White & Case Mexico, we will continue to follow the latest developments in the country to provide the best service to our customers. You may have seen that the company was recently recognized in the Latin Lawyer Deals of the Year Awards.
Editor’s Note: The above article was written by former United States Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza. The column first appeared in Ambassador Garza’s e-newsletter. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with permission from the author. Ambassador Garza can be contacted by email via: [email protected].
Editor’s note: The main image accompanying the commentary above was taken during the Summit of the Americas 2022 held in Los Angeles last week. (Photo credit: State Department)
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