Blinken in Latin America to charm leaders amid Russia, China influence
The US is conducting visits in countries allied with it to reinstate its dominance in the continent.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has begun touring countries in Latin America on Monday, starting from Colombia, then going to Chile then Peru, during a time when many key regional allies have recently elected left-wing presidents.
The United States has a vast history in sanctioning Latin American countries, including Cuba and Venezuela, assassinating its socialist presidents, and destroying its economies.
During his visit, Blinken will be holding talks on regional challenges including migration, drug-trafficking, post-pandemic recovery, climate change, Venezuela, China and Russia.
"This (the trip) reflects the interest of the United States to pay more attention to Latin America, and specifically South America in this case, in terms of the deepening relationship there is with China," said Guillermo Holzmann, a Chilean political analyst.
This trip comes one day after the first round of elections in Brazil: Voters stand between two figures of stark contrast, far-right president Jair Bolsonaro and former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. After Bolsonaro did well running against Lula, the two will compete again on October 30.
The visit by the US diplomat also comes on the heels of a prisoner exchange between the US and Venezuela.
"We are not judging countries based on where they fall on the political spectrum but rather their commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and human rights," said Brian Nichols, US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
The United States has one of the worst human rights records in present time, especially as healthcare and education unaffordability are on the rise, gun violence is still an issue (the leading cause behind youth deaths int he US) with not much being done to prevent it, and systemic police violence arbitrarily killing US civilians.
On Monday and Tuesday, Blinken is in Colombia for the second time since President Gustavo Petro became president to open "open and honest" discussions on the so-called US-backed war against drugs. The United States is the biggest consumer of Colombian cocaine. Petro has called on fixing the 'demand' for drugs in the US, calling US efforts a failure.
Chile's leftist president Gabriel Boric will then meet Blinken in Santiago.
In Lima, Peru, Blinken will be taking part in the Organization for American States (OAS). His visit will fall between Thursday and Friday, where he will meet Pedro Castillo.
The OAS will be considering a pro-NATO agenda entailing the ending to "Russian aggreession in Ukraine," which many Latin American countries don't acknowledge.
In July, defense ministers of 13 out of 21 American nations have decided to refrain from condemning the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
The Brazilian capital of Brasilia hosted the 15th Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas (CDMA).
The final declaration of the conference stressed that the conflicts in Ukraine and Haiti should be resolved by peaceful means.
Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico pointed out that the Ukrainian crisis could not be a subject of the conference as it should be considered by the United Nations.
Russian Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, revealed in April that the United States is pushing Latin American countries into joining anti-Russia sanctions via threats.
Antonov wrote on the Russian embassy Telegram page that there seems to be growing irritation in the US Department of State over the position taken up by these nations in refusal to join the "sanctions 'crusade' against Russia", and their independent vision of the Ukrainian crisis.
"The aim of such statements is clear: to intimidate its partners via secondary restrictions for non-compliance with the anti-Russian campaign," the ambassador said.
The US, according to Antonov, isn't concerned over the damage such sanctions might have on the development of Latin American nations, their food security and social stability.