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Why does Latin America matter to the US?

Why does Latin America matter to the US?
June 16
15:26 2022

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

For decades Latin America has been on the periphery of US foreign policy thinking, as if we could seal ourselves off from everything south of the border by building a wall. But the region is experiencing major transformations with repercussions for the entire American continent, from climate change and a growing wealth gap to the normalization of cartels and a leftward leaning political shift.

Meanwhile, China, Iran and other players are deepening their strategic stakes in the region. As Biden hosts a summit of Latin American leaders (minus those of several key countries including Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Venezuela), speakers at the EMS Briefing on June 10 assess what the US stakes are in a changing Latin America.

Christine Folch of Duke University believes that looking at the relationship between the United States and Central American countries, in addition to immigration issues, can expand perspectives, such as energy applications and technology transfer brought about by climate change, investment and international relations. She said that the current energy structure of the United States is that six of them are chemical fuels, two are new energy sources, and two are nuclear energy sources; two-thirds of the electricity in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania, and Africa comes from chemical fuels. In Latin America, more than two-thirds come from renewable energy sources, such as hydropower and wind power, which the United States can learn from.

Mexico’s experience with American foreign policy in the last two decades has been absolutely disastrous,” said Ted Lewis, Co-Director, Global Exchange. “War on Drugs” is the dominant narrative that most Americans have towards Latin America.

Ariel Ruiz Soto, Migration Policy Institute said that between 2020 and 2022, a total of 1.3 million people entered the United States in the form of “immigration incidents”, and of the immigrants in the past two years, 61% came from Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, El Salvador and Paraguay; 39% came from the world everywhere. Many travel through Mexico. Although many people have to transit into the United States in Mexico, they cannot be protected in Mexico; they have also taken severe measures to combat Cuban smuggling crimes. Most countries have used enforcement as a first approach to manage these migration flows and enforcement often results in deportations and repatriations for people of certain nationalities perhaps in more frequency than others.

The declaration on migration that came out of the Los Angeles summit had three main goals:

  1. Crafting stability for communities who are receiving migrants by providing financial assistance for security, food, and shelter.
  2. Promoting regular pathways for migration and protection of migrants
  3. Making migrant management more humane

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