Apr 10, 2018

Why Trump skipping Latin America matters

Trump and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto at the G20 summit last year. Photo: Saul Loeb /AFP via Getty Images

The Summit of the Americas this Friday and Saturday in Peru was to be the centerpiece of President Trump's first visit to Latin America, and the first time he met many of the region's leaders. Now, Trump has suddenly announced he won't be attending after all — he's staying in D.C. to focus on Syria and sending Vice President Pence in his stead.

Why it matters: Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council's Latin America Center, says Trump's decision is a "significant blow" to the chances of improving relations with the region and with those leaders, many of whom are wondering what "America first" means for them.

"He's missing an opportunity to establish a rapport" with key strategic and economic partners, while "ceding an opportunity to the Chinese," Marczak says.

Context:

  • This is the 8th Summit of the Americas, and the first time the U.S. president has declined to attend. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all attended multiple summits.
  • Trump is deeply unpopular in Latin America. A Gallup poll sticks his approval across the region at 16%, and views of the U.S. have slumped more in South America than on any other continent since he took office.
  • China is making massive investments in the region, passing the U.S. as the top trading partner for several countries, including Brazil, in recent years. Chinese President Xi Jinping has also visited multiple times, Marczak says.

Between the lines: Latin America hasn't been a top U.S. priority for years, and that hasn't gone unnoticed in the region. But under Trump things seem to be reaching a new low, at a time when the U.S. can no longer take its influence in the region for granted.

Worth noting: Trump's excuse is not an unreasonable one. Things in Syria could escalate quickly.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 665,164 — Total deaths: 30,852 — Total recoveries: 140,225.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 124,665 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by early Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

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