In December 1994, the United States hosted the first edition of the Summit of the Americas in Miami, an event created with the aim of increasing cooperation and integration between the countries of the continent.
On that occasion, the world’s largest economic power, then chaired by Bill Clinton, formally presented the proposal for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which foundered in the following years.
This fiasco foreshadowed the difficult reality made evident to another Democratic president, Joe Biden, by more recent facts: the promise of integration of almost 30 years ago was not fulfilled and the United States has been losing more and more influence with its neighbors.
Between Monday (6) and Friday (10), the United States will once again host the Summit of the Americas, this time in Los Angeles, and Biden plans in the ninth edition of the meeting to discuss a new economic agenda for the region and present a plan to combat the increase in immigration.
The pr Preparation for the event indicates how isolated the United States is on the continent: some countries, such as Mexico and Bolivia, conditioned their participation to invitations for Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to be invited, while others, such as Argentina and Chile, criticized the exclusion of the three dictatorships.
The Ukrainian war and relations with China, perhaps the two most important issues in world geopolitics today, also demonstrate the loss of American influence on the continent.
Despite speeches condemning Colombia and Chile, the only country in the Americas to accompany the United States in heavy sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine was Canada. Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, the three largest economies in Latin America, condemned the economic measures against Moscow and preached neutrality regarding the war in Eastern Europe.
In the case of China, the communist dictatorship took advantage of the the United States in the organization of the Summit of the Americas to criticize its biggest geopolitical rival. “Instead of benefiting Latin America, the US has brought unbridled exploitation, dogged sanctions, inflation, political interference, regime change, assassination of politicians and even armed aggression to the region,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out.
In addition to ties to the leftist dictatorships in the region, Beijing has been gaining power in the Americas for years with partnerships such as a space research base in Argentina that is denounced as a cover for military activities and a possible free trade agreement. trade with Uruguay, large loans from its state-owned banks to countries in the region, investments and resources from the Silk Road infrastructure program.
A Latin American diplomat told the Financial Times, under the condition of anonymity, that the United States “is like the Vatican”.
“It is very difficult to be accepted, you have to follow a lot of rules, confess and you can still end up being condemned, instead of going to paradise”, he joked. “The Chinese, on the other hand, are like the two well-dressed young men who knock on your door and ask how you are feeling. They say they also believe in God and want to help. It’s the Mormon strategy.”
It remains to be seen whether this week’s meeting will mark the beginning of the United States’ rapprochement with its neighborhood or whether the cracks in that relationship will be exposed and deepened further.