Change of policy? Obama hosts Chile and Peru presidents; Biden visits Brazil and Colombia
The White House announced that Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera will travel to Washington in June and meet with President Barack Obama. The White House also said that Vice President Joe Biden’s next week will visit Brazil and Colombia with a stop in Trinidad and Tobago.
Biden says the coming months will include the most active stretch of high-level engagement between the U.S. and Latin America in a long time.
The visits come shortly after Obama travelled to Mexico and Costa Rica. While in the two countries, Obama emphasized that the US relationship with Latin and Central America transcends security, immigration and drug-smuggling and urged the region to move beyond old stereotypes and called for strong economic ties.
Humala and Piñera have been in Washington several times and have met with Obama at different events but this will be the first time there will be official receptions at the White House.
On June 4, Obama and Piñera will address “a wide spectrum of bilateral, regional and global issues” such as advancing negotiations for the Trans Pacific Association, according to the White House release.
Other issues include bilateral discussions on cooperation “in energy, education, environment and economic development in Latinamerica”.
The White House reception will be in retribution to Obama’s visit to Chile in March 2011 as part of his first tour of Latinamerica which also included Brazil and El Salvador.
A week later, 11 June, Obama will host Piñera in the Oval Office. The US is supporting Humala’s agenda of social inclusion, wide ranging economic growth and domestic security. Other issues include the TPA negotiations, cooperation in energy, education, climate change, science and technology and bilateral trade, points out the official release.
Chile and Peru are two strong open market economies that promote the private sector, foreign investment and are pushing for greater transparency domestically.
Uruguay’s president Jose Mujica is also scheduled to travel to Washington and meet Obama sometime in the second half of the year, but no dates have been confirmed.
Vice-president Biden has repeatedly said that the Obama administration is involved in the most active stretch of high-level engagement in Latinamerica “in many, many years”.
“We are looking for closer political and trade relations with Latinamerica where we have many friends, a region moving strongly along the democratic consolidation and with many business opportunities”, said Biden who first travelled to Chile in 2009, weeks after his inauguration, as well as to Central America and to Mexico on two occasions.
US total exports to Latinamerica in 2011 reached 650 billion dollars, and that volume keeps increasing said Biden in a recent speech in support of the strong trade and business orientation of the Obama administration.
“It’s time to look for closer associations, partnerships, there are considerable political and economic opportunities” he emphasized.