US Secretary of State Antony Blinken a tour of Latin America began this Monday in Colombia in which it hopes to strengthen ties with allied countries that have recently been led by leaders identified with the center-left and critics of Washington on various issues.
In addition to his interview with the local president, Gustavo Petro, Wednesday Blinken he will travel to Chile and meet with President Gabriel Borica 36-year-old former left-wing student leader who took office last March.
Finally, the Secretary of State Thursday and Friday he will travel to Lima to attend the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OEA), the region’s leading forum that depends on Washington for its annual budget at over 50%.
There, the Foreign Minister of the White House will speak with the President of Peru, Pedro Castillo. The Blinken will not arrive in Argentina traveling to the south of the continent.
In Chile and Peru
The tour began the day after the first presidential round in Brazil, in which far-right president Jair Bolsonaro faced former Social Democratic president Lula da Silva, who led him by 5 points.
Lula was 1.57% from reaching half plus one of the votes and will decide the elections by ballot, on the 30th of this month, with an unpredictable result. Blinken hailed on Twitter the good development of the elections in Brazil and said she hoped so “the second round takes place in the same climate of peace and civic duty”.
The tour also comes after the announcement – Saturday – of an exchange of US prisoners with Venezuela, in the context of a new rapprochement between the two countrieswhich occurs despite the fact that the White House has not yet recognized the re-election of Nicolás Maduro in 2018.
“We have never had such strong relationships with the southern hemisphere”, Undersecretary of State Brian Nichols, in charge of the Latin American region, assured the press on Friday, seeking to refute the notion that the United States is neglecting its southern allies by focusing on issues in Asia or Ukraine.
“We don’t judge countries by where they are on the political spectrum, but rather by their respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights,” Nichols added, according to the AFP agency.
Blinken, in his first regional destination, met with President Petro, who took office in August and is the first center-left president to lead Colombia. Blink He also spoke with the vice president, France Márquez.
The bilateral agenda provides for the implementation of the 2016 Peace Agreement with the guerrillas, the fight against drug trafficking and its consequences for security, health, the environment and also immigration and the protection of Venezuelan migrants, which Washington considers a “model for the region”.
At the inauguration of the Colombian president, US officials said be open to an “open and honest” dialogue. Regarding the war on drugs, about which Petro is very critical and considers it a failure. Colombia, which has experienced several decades of internal conflict, is the world’s leading producer of cocaine and the United States. its main market.
Since taking office in August, as in Colombia, Petro has insisted on making changes to the drug policy he considers “failed” so far and to diversify the bilateral agenda with the United States, underlining efforts to mitigate climate change.
According to State Department spokesman Ned Price, Blinken’s visit includes discussion of a “comprehensive approach to tackling drug trafficking and addressing its health, safety and environmental consequences.”
However, Petro proposed profound changes to Joe Biden’s government, such as allowing drug traffickers who negotiate with the Colombian state not to be extradited, as long as they do not sever. In the event that drug traffickers fail to comply with the agreement, they will be extradited without the right to any kind of negotiation in the United States.
In the Assembly of the OAS, which brings together all the countries of the continent, it is expected the adoption of several resolutions against the Russian invasion of Ukraine – with reservations of some countries -, on the political and human rights crisis in Nicaragua, and on the security crisis in Haiti.
Blinken’s dialogue with Castillo will take place on Thursdaywho has been in office for just over a year and has had several investigations against him for corruption and the dealing of influences.
In particular, Washington seeks to follow up on the “Summit of the Americas”, held in Los Angeles in June and in which it launched an alliance initiative on immigration in Latin America.
Source: EFE, AFP and AP