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Latin America, Donald Trump's most unexpected ally

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Latin America, Donald Trump's most unexpected ally

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Donald Trump is called an "extraordinary partner" by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Guatemalan, Honduran, and El Salvador representatives agreed with a US leader on tightening immigration rules.

And in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro gives constant praise to the Republican.

From north to south of Latin America, the president of the United States has been receptive to boosting his political, migration, trade and security agenda.

This level of cooperation contrasts with the opposition that Trump faces in his own country and in other parts of the world, such as Europe, the Middle East and Asia, as well as the tensions he aroused when he took office in 2017.

During the campaign, Trump won votes demonizing Latino immigrants and promising to protect the United States from trade with Mexico.

He even promised to build a wall on the border between the two countries, and send the costs of the work to the neighboring government. Now, however, the president speaks of Latin America as if it were a great new ally.

"We have a huge relationship now with several countries that are very happy with what is happening. And that includes South America, which has helped us so much, and where no one thought it would be possible," Trump said Wednesday. last monday.

"The relationship with Mexico is an example, or El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala," he added during a news conference in New York, in the context of the United Nations General Assembly.

But why is this happening?

'Kind and genius'

The US government's relationship with Latin America went through a period of disinterest and then a phase of threats and punishment before it reached its present state.

Last week Trump highlighted his relationship with the Mexican government on at least seven occasions, including at the UN General Assembly.

In particular, he referred to the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) agreement, which involves the United States, Canada and Mexico, and the pact for Mexicans to mobilize National Guard troops to try to contain the migratory flow to the north.

"I would like to thank Mexico's President López Obrador for the great cooperation we are receiving and for placing 27,000 troops on our southern border. Mexico is showing us great respect, and I respect them in return," Trump said in a speech. .

The deal, sealed in June in exchange for Trump to remove his threat to impose tariffs on Mexico, worries activists who believe a possible increase in abuses against migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.

But Trump was pleased last week to hear his interim Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan say that there was a 60% reduction in the influx of immigrants from Mexico compared to May. Compared to Central American countries, this drop was 80%.

The US leader recently met El Salvador's president Nayib Bukele, who, like his Honduran and Guatemalan counterparts, signed a bilateral agreement with Washington to prevent new immigrants from reaching the United States.

"One of the reasons we signed the deal is because we want to show this friendship to our most important ally, the United States," said Bukele, next to Trump, in a Manhattan hotel.

"We look forward to working with President Trump for the next five years," he added, in what appeared to be supportive of the president's candidacy for reelection in 2020. "President Trump is very kind and genius."

The three Central American countries' agreements with Washington came after Trump announced in May that they would cut economic aid to those countries – vital resources for them. In addition, remittances that immigrants living in the United States send to their home countries help move the economy.

The pacts also come under special circumstances for Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, whose brother was tried for drug trafficking this week in New York, or for Guatemalan Jimmy Morales, whose political immunity protected him from a corruption investigation.

"We have to consider why Jimmy Morales made such a deal," says Ana Quintana, an analyst with Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy advocacy center in Washington.

"I think potentially Morales could be seen as little more than a US ally for Trump protection," Quintana adds to BBC News World, the BBC's Spanish service.

'I love you'

Trump's understandings with Latin America also occur at a peculiar time for the American president.

Trump faces an impeachment investigation since last week. The request, made by the Democratic Party, wants to determine whether he committed a crime by asking Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenski to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic presidential candidate in 2020.

The lawsuit will try to determine if there was any link between Trump's request to the Ukrainian and a government decision to stop sending financial aid to Ukraine. Trump is preparing to seek his reelection next year.

In addition, the country is experiencing a trade war with China, major political disagreements with Europe, and failed to deliver concrete results in its negotiations to denuclearize North Korea.

"When it comes to Latin America, the Trump administration can point to tangible victories and successes in areas where US interests have advanced," says Quintana.

Trump himself compared Mexico's collaborative attitude to the Democratic opposition's refusal to vote its immigration demands.

"We use Mexico because the Democrats don't fix our broken immigration system," he said in Washington last week.

Even in his unsuccessful attempt so far to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, Trump exhibits a "coalition" with Latin American countries that have followed his decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president of the country.

Some countries such as Mexico or Uruguay avoided adhering to this strategy, but remained in the minority in the region.

Parallel to the UN General Assembly, Trump met in New York with the presidents or representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru to discuss the Venezuelan crisis and try to give Guaidó a boost.

The tuning was also reflected in other areas.

In July, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to classify Hezbollah as a "terrorist" group, something Washington said was a historic achievement after years of diplomatic efforts.

Paraguay did the same the following month. And next could be Brazil, the South American giant that in the last decade, with center-left governments, has helped to strengthen the link between Latin American countries.

Current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly shown his admiration for Trump.

At the UN last week, Bolsonaro said Brazil and the US launched an alliance that includes political and military coordination.

According to the newspaper O Globo, after the UN meeting, Bolsonaro went further in praise of the American president, saying he "loved" him. Trump would have replied that it was "good to see him".

For now, there are no clear signs that with all this Trump could reduce China's influence in the region, as he had proposed.

It is also uncertain what Latin America will achieve in return or how long this special relationship will last. In Europe, Trump's critics accuse him of weakening multilateralism and, internally, opponents classify him as racist and xenophobic.

Roberta Jacobson, a former US ambassador to Mexico, said in a June interview that López Obrador "will find that it is not always possible to reconcile and accept the demands of a bandit like Trump."

But for now, the Mexican and most governments in the region seem inclined to avoid confrontation with Trump and to explore possible advantages in the relationship.

"We are looking for the most effective means," said Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia, whose government restored the relationship with the US after the cooling of relations during the administration of former president Rafael Correa.

"For now, the path we seek in solutions through contacts between governments has worked," he adds.

. (tagsToTranslate) trump usa (t) latin america (t) donald trump (t) alliance (t) impeachment trump

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