The Summit of the Americas has made it clear that the United States must change its narrative around continuing to say that it is the leader of the hemisphere and that immigrants should be grateful to arrive in the country.
Ted Lewis, co-director of Global Exchange He said that it is difficult to say, but the fact that presidents such as Andrés Manuel López Obrado have not attended the summit marks a very important moment in which we are seeing a division in the road.
“The López Obrador administration is halfway through its term at this point and now we are seeing the possible opening of new horizons along with the role of Honduras, whose leader also did not come to the Summit.”
During the video conferenceWhy is Latin America important to the United States?“, organized by Ethnic Media Servicesseveral experts on the subject, evaluated what is at stake in the United States with a changing Latin America.
lewis He recalled that the headlines around the Summit of the Americas were that it was divided, since the president of Mexico did not attend because Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba would not come.
“Mexico is very much in favor of the idea that no matter what the current disagreements are with a given government in the region, these countries should be invited. So they have held that position very strongly and have been joined by the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala for other reasons; and they did not send their leader either.
“That does not mean that these countries did not attend the summit in other ways. Of course, a Mexican delegation attended and spoke about the work in terms of cooperation on various issues.”
He said it’s important to remember that this entire summit process is part of a much larger political landscape and has traditionally been one in which the United States has quite successfully dominated the process.
“It is important to remember how contentious an early summit was that was held in Quebec in April 2001. The NGO (non-governmental organization) community was pushed to the brink and there were thousands of protesters across Canada from different countries. The Canadian government fired more than 100,000 tear gas canisters to contain the crowd.”
According to Lewis, one of the good things about the Summit is that the fact that President López Obrador has decided not to attend and adopt a symbolic position of reaffirmation of the traditional independent foreign policy of Mexico.
“It was one of the first countries in the hemisphere to recognize Cuba. That did not mean that they themselves were becoming revolutionaries, far from it. But they have recognized it right back in the 1970s when the United States supported military dictatorships throughout Latin America that had come to crush experiments in democracy.
“Mexico opened its arms to refugees from Chile and Argentina, and in the 1980s, had the temerity to oppose US policy in Central America when the FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front) was given a diplomatic office in Mexico City, which meant great support from Mexico, something that the Reagan administration considered absolutely unacceptable.”
In terms of migration, he said that Mexico has taken a position of yielding to pressure from the United States.
“We have to recognize that the Biden administration probably won’t get any of the big changes around immigration that we’re looking for because they’re stuck politically. It is a disaster”.
Ariel Ruiz Soto, a policy analyst at the Washington, DC-based Migration Policy Institute, said of Latin American migration trends, that in recent years we have seen that migrants from Central America have been a significant part of the population coming to the United States through Mexico.
But he also mentioned that there is a significant flow of migrants from Nicaragua to Costa Rica, and some Haitians have temporarily settled in Chile, Brazil, Ecuador and other countries.
He specified that in the fiscal year from October 2021 to April 2022, 1.3 million encounters were recorded between migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador with migration authorities.
The nationality that occupies the first place in the number of apprehensions is Mexico; in second place, Guatemala, in third place, Honduras; fourth place, Cuba; and fifth place, Venezuela; and that is the same flow that runs through Mexico.
But at the same time, he mentioned that Mexico is third in the world in receiving asylum applications.
“Since 2014, we have seen 6 million Venezuelans leave their country and 5 million of them have settled in Central and Latin America.”
He said that the flow of Venezuelans has decreased in the last year, but continues to be an important component of migration trends.
In terms of how countries have responded to managing waves of migration, most have used law enforcement as a first approach, resulting in deportations and repatriations.
“Between 2015 and 2019, we saw that Mexico and the United States repatriated and deported 1.1 million migrants from Honduras and Guatemala.”
Ruiz concluded by saying that ideally, assistance needs to be offered to the communities that receive and work with migrants so that they can provide them with food; a temporary status that gives migrants some legal protection; and make border management more humane.
Latin America, leader in climate change
Christine Folch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Environmental Science and Policy at Duke University, said that in the United States, we get nearly two-thirds of the electricity we consume from burning fossil fuels, and 20% from nuclear power and another 20% of renewable energies.
“This majority dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation is common throughout the world with one exception, which is Latin America, where more than two-thirds of the electricity generated comes from renewable energy resources.”
That means, he explained, that if we want to think of a post-fossil fuel world in terms of our economy and politics, Latin America has something to show.
Therefore, he mentioned that instead of building a wall to tackle problems like migration, we could think about creating wealth to bring people closer together.
He mentioned the case of Argentina and its use of renewable energies.
“Argentina has a hydroelectric dam that is on the border of Brazil and Paraguay, and it is the largest in the world. It’s enough to power a third of the state of California or a quarter of Texas. It has an installed capacity of 14,000 megawatts and produces more electricity due to the quality of the river. And that’s why this is important. It helps us think for the future in terms of transboundary water management.”