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Trump leaves Latin America in second place on his first trip to the region

The president, Donald Trump, will step on Latin American soil for the first time in his mandate to attend the G20 summit, but his limited agenda in Buenos Aires and his decision to cancel a subsequent visit to Colombia have left Latin America in the background From the trip.

Trump’s meetings with Chinese, Xi Jinping, and Russian leaders, Vladimir Putin, promise to take the leading role of his trip to the Argentine capital, where he will arrive tomorrow night to stay until Saturday, when the summit of leaders of the developed or emerging nations that make up the G20.

Argentina will be Trump’s first destination in Latin America during its almost two
years of mandate, after last April canceled the visit he had planned to Peru and Colombia due to information about an alleged chemical attack in Syria.

That gesture left a bad taste in the mouth of the continent and the White House tried to compensate for it by converting Trump’s trip to the G20 summit in a short Latin American tour, but this month he canceled the stop he planned to make in Colombia on Sunday, alluding schedule problems”.
Trump has avoided making long trips since his extensive tour of Asia last year, and now he tries to make all his stops abroad as “short” as possible, explained to Efe an ex-adviser of the National Security Council of the White House, Fernando Cutz.

In Buenos Aires, Trump has only scheduled for the moment a bilateral meeting with one of the three Latin American presidents who make up the G20, the Argentine Mauricio Macri, something that responds to the tradition of the White House to always schedule a meeting with the host of any multilateral summit.

It is likely that Trump will also see the outgoing Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, as the renewed commercial agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada, known in Spanish as T-MEC, is expected to be signed in Buenos Aires on Friday.

But “it is doubtful that many Latin Americans will see Trump’s meeting with Macri, or the signing of a trade agreement that has left a bad taste in Mexico and Canada, as a demonstration of genuine interest in the region,” he said. Efe the president of the center of studies Inter-American Dialogue, Michael Shifter.
The impression of many in the continent is that Trump travels to Argentina only because the G20 summit is held there, and the White House has not bothered to highlight the fact that this will be the first visit of the president to Latin America.
“I think it would be a missed opportunity if he goes to the summit just because it happens to be held in Argentina, and does not recognize the fact that he is in Latin America or talks about the region,” said Cutz.

Only 16% of Latin Americans had a favorable opinion of Trump last year, according to a Gallup poll, and the president’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has tightened ties with Mexico and Central America.

However, “most of the governments in the region want to maintain positive relations, or at least ‘correct’ relations with the United States, and their leaders take special care to avoid antagonizing Trump,” the director for Latin America told Efe. Wilson Center Study Center, Cynthia Arnson.

That pragmatism is more pronounced in South America, where there does not seem to be much “negative impact” from Trump’s attitude towards immigrants, according to Cutz, who was in charge of the policy toward that region in the White House for much of last year.

In practice, however, the US has tightened its sanctions on Venezuela and Nicaragua since Trump came to power; and John Bolton, who since April is his national security adviser, is very interested in increasing the pressure against these two countries and Cuba, which he has described as a “troika of tyranny.”

Bolton’s morning meeting in Rio de Janeiro with Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, whom he has described as a leader “like” Trump, can contribute to generating a powerful bilateral axis that, in the long term, would be more significant for the continent that the fleeting trip of the agent chief executive to Argentina.

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