Summit of the Americas: Biden to address regional leaders and envoys | Political news

President Joe Biden is about to kick off the leaders-level party of the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, as Washington seeks to reassert its leadership in the region through a series of initiatives aimed at stimulating economies, tackling migration, and addressing public health crises.

The event, which has lost relevance in recent years, has already been overshadowed by the US decision to exclude Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba from the guest list. US officials upheld the move, citing rights abuses and a lack of democracy in excluded countries, but several leaders, including Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said the move undermined the spirit of the rally and chose to send lower level delegates in protest.

Still, US officials maintained that their goals would not be affected by the boycott.

Early Wednesday, the White House announced its latest regional measure — the creation of a new Americas Health Corps — tied to the event. The plan will seek to upgrade the skills of 500,000 health workers across the region, building on lessons from COVID-19, though its $100 million price tag depends in part on funds that have yet to come. been lifted.

A day earlier, the White House announced $1.9 billion in additional private funding that will aim to create tens of thousands of jobs in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, all poor Central American countries and in prey to violence from which hundreds of thousands of people flee every year. year in search of security and better opportunities.

Biden is expected to welcome leaders and representatives from the Western Hemisphere on Wednesday before unveiling a “partnership of the Americas” aimed at accelerating recovery from the pandemic and building on existing trade agreements, according to US officials.

It comes as Washington grapples with China’s growing influence in Latin America. China remains the second largest trading partner, behind the United States, in the region. However, a Reuters analysis published on Wednesday, citing United Nations trade data from 2015 to 2021, found that excluding Mexico, China overtook the United States as the top trading partner in Latin America.

Biden is also expected to preview a statement on migration to be announced on Friday, which will include specific commitments from leaders to help address high rates of people leaving their home countries, according to U.S. officials.

The United States has seen the number of people trying to cross its southern border during Biden’s first term, and the problem is seen as a vulnerability in the upcoming midterm elections in November, which will decide the composition of the legislature. American for the remainder of Biden’s first term.

As delegates began arriving in the United States on Monday, a caravan of thousands of migrants set off near Mexico’s border with Guatemala in hopes of reaching the US-Mexico border.

Beyond Lopez Obrador, other key leaders to fight migration – including the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – said they would not attend the event, further threatening any progress. .

Still, with 23 leaders expected to attend, the turnout is expected to be higher than the 2018 summit hosted by Peru. After former US President Donald Trump skipped the event, only 17 leaders attended. This year’s summit is the first time the United States has hosted the rally since it was first held in Miami in 1994.

Concerns over the guest list have seen Biden and US Vice President Kamala Harris personally call on some leaders to attend. Meanwhile, a US envoy visited the region, apparently helping to secure the presence of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Biden is due to meet the far-right leader, a staunch Trump supporter, on the sidelines of the event.

In an interview on Tuesday, Bolsonaro praised Trump, while repeating his baseless claims that the 2020 US presidential election – which Trump lost to Biden – was “suspicious”.

A senior Biden administration official said he expected a “frank conversation” between the two men.

“Obviously we also have disagreements with the president and the government of Brazil,” he said.

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