The main issues facing the current US president in the Americas are the rapprochement with Cuba, the Venezuelan crisis and the peace process with the FARC in Colombia. But the hottest thing is the relationship with Mexico. After inviting President Enrique Pena Nieto to Washington to discuss the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, he explained that the arrival of the Mexican president was not opportune if he did not pay for the wall that Trump wants to build between the two countries.
Donald Trump comes to power as Latin America, after fifteen years of domination of “socialism of the XXI century”, is finding right-wing governments. In Argentina with Macri, and in Brazil after the dismissal of Dilma Roussef replaced by Michel Temer. The socialist Michelle Bachelet has greatly disappointed the Chileans and the chavist Nicolas Maduro faces a serious political and economic crisis which places his country in an explosive situation. Barack Obama has launched a rapprochement with Cuba very criticized by the Republican party. Colombia, Washington’s main ally in the subcontinent, is entering a fragile peace process with the continent’s oldest guerrillas, the Farc. Donald Trump had some very hard words against the Mexicans and their country and seems to want to start a trade war with his neighbor to the south. Nevertheless, the reception of the new president is rather favorable among its neighbors of the South, even in the very anti-American Venezuela of Nicolas Maduro. Probably a consequence of his desire to get closer to Russia of Vladimir Putin.
1 What are the implications for Mexico?
Donald Trump canceled, on Wednesday, January 26, 2017, his invitation to President Enrique Pena Nieto to discuss the future of the North American free trade treaty, for lack of a commitment from Mexico to Pay the construction of a wall between the two countries.
Donald Trump made very violent statements against the Mexicans and Mexico linked to the United States by the North American free trade treaty. He accused the Mexicans of being rapists and those responsible for violence in the United States. The country would have “taken advantage of the United States” according to the new US president and promised massive expulsions, 6 to 7 million without knowing whether it spoke only Mexican or all immigrants of Latin American origin . He also promised to build a wall along the border between the two countries and make him pay for it by his neighbor to the south. The Mexican-American border sees the passage of migrants and drugs to the north and weapons and money to the south. The Mexican president met Donald Trump at the end of August to try to calm the spirits. But the Republican presidential candidate inflicted a terrible camouflage on the Mexican president by multiplying the provocative statements immediately after their meeting.
Even before his entry into the White House, Donald Trump has already caused damage in Mexico. By promising to tax the companies that build in Mexico, he managed to force Ford to cancel a $ 1.6 billion investment and General Motors to repatriate part of its production. Fiat Chrysler management said it would be crazy to plan new investments in Mexico.
The Mexican currency is at its historic low (22 pesos to one dollar) as price increases have caused lethal riots. “We need to be fully aware of the size of the problem. With Trump we are confronted with a paradigm shift. This can end in a war in every sense of the term, except military, “analyzes the Mexican intellectual Enrique Krauze.
Faced with threats, the Mexican government has chosen caution, considering that it is better to negotiate with its opponent than to confront it. The new Foreign Minister, Videgaray, who had initiated the meeting between Trump and Pena Nieto last August, said that Mexico would fall “neither in conflict nor in submission”. The weight of the Mexican economy is an asset for Mexico, since it would generate six million jobs in the United States, according to the economist of the Colegio de Mexico, Gerardo Esquivel.
2 Does Colombia expect the end of US aid?
The new US president comes to power when his main ally in Latin America, Colombia, has just signed a peace agreement with the country’s main guerrillas, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ending an internal conflict More than 50 years. The Obama administration has indicated its willingness to support Colombia in this process. He accompanied the negotiations for four years in Havana. The incumbent president promised substantial assistance of 450 million to finance the implementation of this agreement.
Donald Trump did not mention the cooperation between Washington and Bogota. A retreat from Washington would be very bad news for the Colombian government. Indeed, this peace is fragile. The agreements were rejected by referendum and had to be renegotiated urgently. The Santos government has renounced organizing a second referendum and has ratified the new text by the parliament which has greatly weakened it.
For the president of the Interamerican Dialog Michael Shifter, “the US policy towards Colombia should not change fundamentally. It is possible, however, that Donald Trump is more demanding with the Colombian government in its policy of combating drug production and trafficking. ” For four years and the beginning of the peace dialogues with the Farc, the production of cocaine in Colombia has doubled. “Donald Trump is likely to put pressure on the Colombian government to bring down cocaine exports. What we have in Trump’s team is that the new president disagrees with the fact that the production of coca leaf can be considered a related offense. ” FARC financed part of their activities with drug trafficking. The peace agreements provide that the offense of drug trafficking is considered a “related offense” to political activity and thus amnesty.
3 Will relations with Venezuela change?
The Obama administration has been extremely cautious in the face of the political and economic crisis in Venezuela. Shortages of medicines and food, inflation of more than 700%, daily violence create an explosive situation. Barack Obama supported attempts at dialogue between the opposition and the Chavist power initiated with the support of the Vatican. This dialogue has gone short, the divisions of the opposition and the reluctance of the government of Nicolas Maduro having made no progress.
The Venezuelan president denounced a campaign of hatred in the world media against Donald Trump. “The big international media are speculating a lot, and we are surprised at the hatred against Trump all over the world … We are expecting great changes in global politics. And one of them, surely the most important, is the arrival of Trump in power “. The good relations between Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the Chavista power, and Donald Trump’s desire to move closer to Moscow, are probably behind President Maduro’s plea for Donald Trump.
“The Venezuelan opposition places great hope in the arrival of Donald Trump at the White House, analyzes Milos Alcalay, former ambassador of Venezuela to the UN and member of the anti-Chavist opposition. The new president was interested in the fate of Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez two political leaders who were imprisoned by the Chavista power. He denounced the political repression exercised by Nicolas Maduro. ”
4 What are the implications for rapprochement with Cuba?
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Barack Obama and Raul Castro surprised the world on 17 December 2014 by announcing simultaneously the rapprochement of the two countries. Diplomatic relations resumed and Barack Obama traveled to Cuba in March 2016. Obama’s analysis of the Cuban situation is simple: the rupture of diplomatic relations and the embargo against Cuba did not Situation of the Castro island, it is necessary to change radically policy with Cuba, to bring about a rapprochement and to develop the economic relations.
One of the last decisions of the former president had serious consequences for thousands of Cubans: the repeal of the decree wet foot dry foot. It was decided by President Clinton in 1996. It stipulated that the Cubans who succeeded in touching American soil would be welcomed as political refugees and those intercepted at sea brought back to Cuba. “It’s unfair and it causes a real humanitarian crisis,” says the dissident Cuban writer Jacobo Machover. Obama lay down before Castro, making all the concessions demanded by the Castro regime without ever asking for anything in return. We are hopeful that Trump will end this.
He met with representatives of the Cuban community this week. They told him all the evil they thought about Obama’s policy. ” The position of the new President of the United States changed during the campaign. While initially approving the merger, he believed it opened up opportunities for American companies, and then laughed at it, which probably allowed him to win the votes of the Cubans of Miami. For Michael Shifter, Trump’s position on the Cuban record is tricky. “I think Trump is not going to change much. It will be difficult for him to return to the dry feet decree wet feet after the violently anti-immigration remarks he held. The Congress has for the moment refused to appoint an ambassador. He is unlikely to change position.
5 Trump a chance for Latin America?
When a Telesur reporter interviewed President Rafael Correa last summer to find out who his favorite candidate was, he answered “Trump” without hesitation. Before saying, “It is so crude that it will provoke a reaction in Latin America, which could strengthen the position of the progressive governments of the region”. Already some hope that the commercial war now declared between Washington and Mexico City could push the Mexican president to look a little further south. More generally, the America first could push the Latin countries to make connections. After the disappointment for the subregion of the Obama presidency, this time it is clear: Even the countries that might have been thought to have enjoyed a republican president such as Argentina and Brazil, Latin America is not on its agenda. And the wall he wants to build is a perfect symbol of what awaits the Latin American countries.