US “Resetting” Latin America
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has toured three Latin American countries. His visit shows the White House’s attempts to establish a softer but longer-term influence over countries in the region.
The State Department website listed the following announcement of the trip: “Secretary Blinken will meet with President Gustavo Petro, Vice President Francia Marquez and Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva in Colombia on Monday and Tuesday, October 3 and 4. The Secretary of State will focus on our three main shared priorities: supporting strong democratic institutions, emphasising respect for human rights across the region and reaffirming the hemisphere’s regional and holistic approach to tackling irregular migration. Secretary Blinken will also discuss efforts to address the climate crisis and drug trafficking affecting the region… Secretary Blinken will meet with President Gabriel Borich and Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejol in Santiago, Chile, on October 5. He will reiterate US support for democratic governance, bilateral opportunities for trade and investment, our joint efforts to combat climate change, and regional security and migration management.
The Secretary of State will also visit Chile’s National Electricity Center, where US-owned companies are helping to advance our shared goals of renewable energy and zero emissions by 2050. He will also meet with alumni of the US-sponsored Young Leaders of America initiative to discuss how their innovations contribute to economic growth and positive change in their communities.
On 6 October, Secretary Blinken will travel to Lima, Peru to lead the US delegation to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, where he will highlight the US commitment to the OAS and this year’s theme, Together Against Inequality and Discrimination.
The secretary will also engage with regional partners on issues of common interest. At the General Assembly, he will reaffirm the important role of the OAS in promoting democracy, human rights, sustainable development and security cooperation across the Western Hemisphere. Secretary Blinken will also discuss efforts to implement the commitments made at the Ninth Summit of the Americas.
He will meet with Peruvian President Pedro Castillo and Foreign Minister César Landa to discuss increasing regional security, strengthening democratic governance, protecting the environment and promoting inclusive economic growth.
On the sidelines of the OAS General Assembly, the secretary will attend the Ministerial Meeting on Migration in Lima”.
When it comes to general US interests in the region, it is clear that Washington is extremely interested in re-establishing its influence in Latin America. To make it its “backyard” again in order to control political processes, to engage votes in the UN for its own purposes, to have access to natural and human resources, and to prevent countries from increasing cooperation with Russia and China.
The last point is one of the imperatives of US foreign policy. They cannot state this directly (nor can they enforce all of their demands), so they enter Latin American countries under broad pretexts and projects that might interest national governments. For example the recent White House-initiated Build Back Better initiative, which tries to compete with China’s Belt and Road, where Beijing’s investment is clearly more attractive than US loans.
Colombia, Chile and Peru are indicative in the sense that in all three, left-wing parties won the last elections. But these are not classical Marxist or Maoist organisations (some of which, incidentally, are still fighting from the underground in a number of countries). These are a new type of left-wing parties, which fit in well with the globalist agenda. They have ideas about the rights of sexual minorities, the legalisation of same-sex marriage along with drugs, and talk of climate change, which appeals to both the European Greens and the US Democratic Party.
And all three countries can hardly be called stable. In Colombia, although the left-wing ELN group and the government have agreed to a ceasefire, it is still too early to talk about starting a peace process. In Chile, Boric’s attempts to reform the constitution ended in failure. And it has led to further protests. Additionally, there are growing separatist tendencies amongst the Amerindian population.
Peru’s president Pedro Castillo has been accused of corruption. During his short rule (since July 2021), four heads of government have already been replaced. Incidentally, his economic adviser is former World Bank official Pedro Franke. So the globalist footprint is there, and quite clearly.
What was the first thing Colombia discussed? And first they talked about intelligence sharing and other mutual measures aimed at combating drug traffickers. Although no new agreements were officially signed between the US and Colombian authorities. The Biden administration is probably still testing the willingness of the new Colombian leadership for such cooperation. Since there are already U.S. military bases in the country and there is cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking, the White House would like to use this channel to increase its influence. Although Gustavo Petro himself called the war on drugs, which has been led by the U.S. all these years, a failure and called for a new international approach.
But when asked by President Petro why the U.S. would not remove Cuba from the list of states sponsoring terrorism, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken responded rather vaguely, “With respect to Cuba and its inclusion on the list of states sponsoring terrorism, we have clear laws, clear criteria, clear requirements, and we will continue to review them as necessary to make sure that Cuba continues to meet that definition.” The issue is likely to remain solely in the hands of Washington, although Colombia itself has quite large paramilitary organisations that use violence against the state’s security structures. And drug trafficking towards the US remains quite powerful. But Colombia is not on that list, as it continues to be an obedient US puppet for many years. Petro is somewhat sceptical about continuing such “cooperation”. At least before he won the election he was openly critical of US foreign policy. But having become part of the establishment, he is now making more politically correct statements.
Petro himself said it would be a good idea to redefine the nature of US military assistance. And gave the example of the organisation of a police force to fight fires in the Amazon. It is doubtful that the US would redirect resources to this activity. In name only, they pay lip service to environmental protection. In reality, they need effective tools for control. If there is no US-loyal military in Colombia, then it will be difficult to blackmail heads of government into following Washington’s course.
In Chile, Blinken seems to have achieved his aims: Borich is so far satisfactory to the US. So does Peru. Washington obviously does not intend to put much pressure on them, so as not to provoke another increase in jankophobia. The Peruvian foreign minister Cesar Landa told a joint press conference with the US Secretary of State that their country is looking for alternatives to Russian fertilizers and grain. “We have been discussing with Blinken the possibility of closer cooperation in supplying urea, which is required in large quantities for Peru’s vast agricultural lands, primarily for small, family farms,” Landa said.
It seems unlikely that there will be any other options for supplying such products in the near future.
But if viewed strategically, it reveals attempts by the U.S. to secure certain sectors of the economy for American companies to enter or bring in a third party as a subcontractor.
Current perturbations in the world order are closely linked to technological competition. The United States is trying to forge alliances, such as the recent one with Taiwan and South Korea in microelectronics, but the issues of energy, fertilizers and access to minerals (Chile has the largest deposits of copper ore and Peru has a developed mining industry) cannot be dismissed. And given the relative geographical proximity and historical ties, it would be easier for Washington to close off such links and projects.
An important event was the meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Lima, Peru. The United States presented its next resolution against Russia. With 24 votes in favour and only 9 against, the document was formally adopted – another resolution condemning Russia’s “illegal, unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”. But it is telling that the biggest players in the region were against it – Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, as well as Russia’s partners Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bolivia and Honduras. Plus Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Venezuela and Cuba did not vote as their OAS membership is formally suspended.
We add two more pieces of news that are important in this context.
It has become known that the Biden administration may ease sanctions against Caracas in return for Chevron resuming operations in Venezuelan fields. The US wants to resume access to oil, at least in the short term. The US has previously released convicted nephews of President Maduro as part of a “goodwill gesture”, and Venezuela has responded by releasing seven US citizens from prison. “The Wall Street Journal reports that Maduro’s government has agreed to resume talks with the opposition on terms for “free and fair” elections in 2024. An additional agreement to release hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen Venezuelan accounts in the US is also being discussed.
And, of course, the past elections in Brazil. As Latin America’s largest economy, this country cannot but be of interest to the USA. So far, all polls and official campaign data show that Lula da Silva has a real chance of winning the second round of presidential elections. Lula is openly supported by both the US Democratic Party and George Soros. And his opponent Bolsonaro is supported by Donald Trump. Bolsonaro, incidentally, was not afraid to pay a visit to Russia, and in a recent vote at the UN Security Council Brazil did not support a US resolution on referendums in four already former Ukrainian regions. Whereas Lula condemned Russia’s special operation.
Although we have a pragmatic relationship, there is always the risk that the US may lobby more actively for anti-Russian actions in Brazil in the future, as well as in the Latin American region as a whole. And they will do so. A counterweight to such attempts is definitely needed. That is, expansion of all possible channels of interaction with Latin American countries. Offering lucrative deals, mutual investments and commodity exchanges.
II https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/colombia-us-discuss-more-drug-interdiction-sea-enhanced-intel-sharing-blinken-2022-10-03/ I