US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is starting Monday a most unusual Latin American tour through which President Joseph Biden's administration seeks to follow up on the goals agreed upon during the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in June.
Although Washington is still to recognize Nicolás Maduro as Venezuela's leader (instead of Juan Guaidó, whom many western countries regard as interim chief executive following the 2018 dubious elections), a prisoner exchange with Caracas was announced Saturday.
Blinken will first visit in Colombia where the US needs to revalidate its partnership with a country recently won over by the left in the last presidential elections.
Heading to Colombia to build on our vital, strong partnership. The vibrant ties between our people touch on virtually every aspect of our lives—our economies, security, respect for human and labor rights, and efforts to build a more democratic and equitable hemisphere, posted Blinken on Twitter.
The Secretary of State also hailed on Twitter the good development of the polls in Brazil and said he hoped that the second round will take place in the same environment of peace and civic duty.
We've never had such strong relations with the southern hemisphere, Undersecretary of State Brian Nichols, in charge of the Latin America region, assured reporters Friday, refuting the idea that the United States is neglecting its southern allies by focusing on issues in Asia or Ukraine. This is the same official Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega called a poor black guy.
We don't judge countries by where they fall on the political spectrum, but rather by their respect for democracy, for the rule of law, and for human rights, Nichols added.
While in Bogotá Monday and Tuesday, Blinken will meet with President Gustavo Petro to discuss the 2016 Peace Accord, the fight against drug trafficking, and its consequences on
security, healthcare, in addition to environmental issues as well as the protection of Venezuelan migrants.
During Petro's inauguration in August, US officials said they were willing to have an open and honest dialogue with the new Colombian president on the drug war, which Petro wants to put an end to because he considers it a failure. Colombia, which has lived through several decades of internal conflict, is the world's leading cocaine producer and the United States its main market.
The White House, through a press release, stated that in Colombia, the U.S. Secretary of State will address issues such as the climate crisis, supporting regional efforts to address irregular migration, and implementing a holistic approach to combat drug trafficking and address its impacts on health, security and the environment.
In his speech at the UN General Assembly, Petro made clear his position on the war on drugs and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
Blinken will then travel to Chile Wednesday and meet with President Gabriel Boric, a 36-year-old former leftist student leader, who took office last March.
On his way back home, the Secretary of State will make a stop in Lima on Thursday and Friday to participate in the annual General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), the region's main political forum that depends on Washington for more than 50% of its annual budget.
The Assembly, which brings together all the countries of the continent, is expected to adopt several resolutions against the Russian invasion of Ukraine -with reservations from some countries-, the political and human rights crisis in Nicaragua, and the security crisis in Haiti.
Blinken will also have a meeting Thursday with Peru's leftist President Pedro Castillo Terrones, who has been in office a little over a year and has already survived two impeachment attempts. He is also under investigation for corruption and influence peddling.
Joining Blinken in his trip is Biden's special adviser on Latin American issues Juan Fernandez as the US top diplomat undertakes the tough job of getting through the leftwing ideology that is taking over the entire continent, as Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva's first-round victory last Sunday over the far-right Jair Bolsonaro would seem to indicate.