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Trump’s canceled trip to summit seen as confirmation of “his lack of interest in Latin America”

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MIAMI, Fla. — With negative reaction to Donald Trump’s cancelled trip to attend the Summit of the Americas in Peru and Trump’s previous comments and actions regarding some Latin American countries, Vice President Mike Pence’s message that the region should turn to the U.S. as their main trading partner may fall on deaf ears.

The summit would have been Trump’s first foreign trip to Latin America. Now, it will mark the first time an American president has not attended the summit since it was first held in 1994.

Trump, who was supposed to attend the 8th summit of hemispheric leaders that starts Friday, cancelled the trip to “oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world,” White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Tuesday. Pence will go in his place but will skip a trip to Colombia that had been planned for Trump.

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In a statement, Pence deputy chief of staff, Jarrod Agen, said the vice president is honored to attend the summit, stating he had gone to the region last year and worked on trade deals and on putting pressure on the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

But Latin America experts say it’s not the same with Pence.

“The vice president in no way is a credible substitute,” said Richard Feinberg, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor at the University of California, San Diego. He is in Lima to attend what will be his seventh summit. “Coward,” he said, referring to Trump.

Although official delegations have yet to arrive, members of Peru’s civil sector and average Peruvians are speculating Trump fears he would be poorly received by many Latin American delegations that dislike his “anti-immigrant, anti-trade, anti-democracy postures,” said Feinberg.

“The absence of Trump confirms his lack of interest in Latin America,” said Carmelo Mesa-Lago, professor emeritus of economics and Latin American studies at the University of Pittsburg, who said he is not convinced Trump cancelled the trip in order to evaluate the ongoing crisis in Syria.

He said Trump would have had to confront criticism from Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua -which all have leftist governments – and their solidarity with Venezuela. The Trump administration has sanctioned numerous Venezuelan officials, banned U.S. citizens from using their new cryptocurrency, and are looking into oil sanctions

The message to regional leaders to view the U.S. as their main trading partner comes on the heels of Trump’s escalating confrontation over trade with Beijing. China is a top trade partner for Latin American countries ranging from Brazil, the region’s largest economy, to Uruguay. So far, the leaders have been mostly silent, but much of Trump’s tough rhetoric on illegal immigration, tariffs, and trade deals, may not bode well with leaders.

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Recently, Trump said U.S. aid to Honduras’ is “in play” while a caravan of migrants were moving through Mexico to request asylum at the U.S. border. Last week, he announced sending National Guard troops along the southern border with Mexico.

He has been sparring with Mexico and Canada on an overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The administration is arguing with Argentina over biodiesel. Brazil, a top supplier of steel, was threatened as well by the administration with tariffs on its imports. The tariffs on steel and aluminum have also sparked criticism from many leaders that will be at he summit.

“The protectionist message will not resonate,” said Frank Mora, a former Pentagon official that heads Florida International University’s Latin America Center. He added that Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and protectionism is not well received by the region as well as Latin American leaders.Trump’s approval rating in Latin America was at 16 percent, according to a Gallup poll released in January.

Trump has also clashed with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto over funding of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump has always insisted that Mexico pay for the wall. The disagreement escalated earlier this year, prompting Peña Nieto to cancel his plans to visit the White House.

The conflict Trump has created with Mexico is hurting trade, according to Mesa-Lago. Trade between the U.S. and Latin America benefits both, he said. “There is a favorable trade balance. It’s a relationship that’s mutually beneficial.” There are a series of advantages, including the proximity with Latin America, he said.

When Trump took office, he promised to take the U.S. out of NAFTA unless it could be reworked to better serve American interests. Trump argues that the 1994 agreement was a “disaster” that has shifted manufacturing jobs to Mexico at the expense of the U.S.

Talks have been underway with officials from the U.S., Mexico, and Canada to renegotiate the agreement. With Trump’s conflict with China over tariffs, Trump administration officials had been pushing to announce a deal, at least in principle, in Peru, but Trump later said there is “no rush.”

Feinberg said he took Trump’s trip to Lima for the summit as pushing the negotiators to come to an interim accord. “But without Trump traveling, now the pressure is going to be diminished.”

“Here is a guy who has transformed the United States into an unreliable economic partner. Why should any country anywhere look to the U.S. as a preferential trading partner,” said Feinberg.

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Boris warned to avoid second lockdown as it would 'ruin economy and diminish immunity'

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BORIS JOHNSON has been warned against imposing a second national lockdown as it would “ruin the economy and diminish our natural immunity” ahead of his emergency Cobra meeting to decide on an action plan.

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Jeremy Corbyn's leadership savaged as Keir Starmer takes brutal dig at ex-Labour leader

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SIR Keir Starmer will tomorrow plead for working class voters to return to supporting Labour after they deserted the party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

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Biden tries to keep Wisconsin voters’ attention on Trump’s pandemic response

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Joe Biden on Monday visited the key battleground state of Wisconsin, where Covid-19 cases have surged recently, to bear down hard on his criticism of President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, even as the president has turned his attention to the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Biden’s trip to an aluminum foundry in Manitowoc, about 70 miles north of Milwaukee, was his second to Wisconsin in recent weeks, underscoring the attention his campaign has begun devoting to the state. Earlier this month, Biden visited Kenosha, the site of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and ensuing unrest, earlier this month. His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also visited Kenosha earlier this month.

Pointing out that “it’s been so long” since the pandemic began, and noting that the nation had just passed the “tragic milestone” of 200,000 people dead from the coronavirus, Biden expressed concern that Republican leaders, as well as voters, have begun to tune out the pain of the outbreak.

“I worry we’re at risk of becoming numb to the toll that’s taking on us,” he said. “We can’t let that happen.”

“All the president does is deliberately change the subject,” he said.

While Covid-19 infection rates have stabilized in some parts of the U.S., they’ve surged enormously in Wisconsin recently. In the last seven days, Wisconsin has the third-highest number of infections per 100,000 people. In Manitowoc County, where Biden spoke, confirmed cases have risen over the last 14 days.

But voters’ attention on the pandemic appears to be shifting in parts of the state and country, especially since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday thrust into the spotlight the new Supreme Court vacancy.

Trump has pounded that issue over the last 72 hours, pledging to nominate a woman for the seat by Friday or Saturday and saying he wants a confirmation vote on his pick before the election. Biden responded in a speech Sunday, pleading with Senate Republicans to not vote on a nominee ahead of the election.

The former vice president used large chunks of his Wisconsin speech on Monday to reiterated his populist-tinged criticism of Trump and to tout his own support of unions and working-class voters.

He acknowledged that Democrats have to do more to win back the thousands of former supporters who voted for Trump in 2016. Democrats were hounded with accusations after the election that they didn’t pay enough attention to Midwestern states like Wisconsin and Ohio, where many working-class voters fled the party.

Addressing “those of you who voted for Donald Trump,” Biden said, “I know many of you were frustrated, angry. “

In 2008, Barack Obama won Manitowoc County by a comfortable 8 percentage points. In 2012, Obama lost it to Mitt Romney by 2.8 percentage points. By 2016, Trump won the county by more than 21 percentage points. Experts have attributed swings like that in areas of states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania to the theory that Democrats have not spoken to blue-collar voters — a notion that Biden addressed.

“I know many of you believe you weren’t being seen or heard. I get it,” he said. “It has to change.”

“I promise you this,” Biden added. “You will be seen, heard and respected by me.”



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