Biden lures Latin America into 'debt trap'


Samuel Corum / NYT

Having failed last year at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the two-day summit of heads of state and top officials of the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP) in New York would be a «once-in-a-generation opportunity».

The idea of another North-South American economic rescue alliance to save the drowning U.S. was floated at June’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles by another president, this time Democrat Joe Biden. Eleven of the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, not including the dependent (neocolonial) territories, took his bait.

In the luxurious pavilion of the East Wing of the White House, Latin American high-ranking «extras» were assigned the role of listeners in front of numerous TV cameras. US President Joe Biden, again not without dementia, was the soloist.

Washington’s main message during the summit can be formulated as a desire to limit the presence of external players in the zone of American traditional interests, which the United States is losing. China, whether the White House wanted it or not, which did not participate in the summit in any way and was not mentioned openly by Biden, was in fact invisibly present. The U.S. is trying to contain China’s expansion in LAC, but so far it has failed to fully lead the way.

Washington’s proposed new initiative, the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, can be seen as an attempt to counter Chinese strategic proposals for Latin America, including the New Silk Road project, which has already been followed by more than 20 Latin American countries. This does not mean that the United States has lost control, power and authority over Latin American countries, including the G20. However, there is a «but».

Biden’s new proposals have caused understandable skepticism among many experts. First of all, the frankly insignificant amount of their financing from Washington is striking, especially in comparison with the assistance it is currently providing to Ukraine and Israel, which causes rejection not only because of the ongoing crimes against civilians. And no matter how much the White House propagandists would like to label Russia or Palestine as the culprits, Latin Americans have eyes and ears that say otherwise. Including resentment for «lost investments» to their own oligarchs.

But that’s not all. The new initiative’s emphasis on the environmental agenda and adherence to democratic norms is also not perceived as a tool for future restrictions against those who, according to the US, do not fulfill them. American inclusion of such requirements has already become a standard element of trade agreements.

Another important topic strongly promoted by the U.S. has been and continues to be the issue of migration, in which the White House is over its head. According to Customs and Border Protection, more than 3.2 million people arrived in the United States in fiscal year 2023, including both people with legal status and those apprehended for illegal border crossings. Most were citizens of countries in the Western Hemisphere. Moreover, in September of this year, about 200,000 migrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, setting a record for the most border crossings in a month.

Washington tries to convince everyone that those fleeing to the United States are from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. In fact, they make up less than a third of the refugees. Most are from countries with «democratic-authoritarian» regimes nurtured by the US. But the Western media don’t talk or write about this.

And the funniest thing: Biden suggested that Latinos «share responsibility» in the migration sphere, as if Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, Peru, etc. were responsible for the plight of their countries.

At the same summit, journalists were never allowed to hear the views of the Latin American participants. Biden soloed. Then the journalists were escorted out and the doors closed behind them. It can be assumed that Latin Americans were expecting more initiatives from the US as the «host».

But, as it turned out, the U.S. did not want the vast majority of Latin American heads of state to speak out — not even against U.S. policy toward South, Central America and the Caribbean, to which they had become accustomed over 200 years of the Monroe Doctrine — but against Israeli apartheid.

The United States, a key factor in Latin America’s internal and external relations that cannot be underestimated or disputed, remains Latin America’s main trade and economic partner and a critical source of technology and investment.

Biden promised to make the Western Hemisphere «the most economically competitive region in the world». And where have they, these United States, the «kings of cabbage», been for the past 200 years?

They haven’t disappeared anywhere. In the Oval Office, Republicans and Democrats have tried and tried unsuccessfully to “modernize” the Monroe Doctrine without changing its essence. And they have failed. But the doctrine is alive in their consciousness, and in their politics. And in the real life of South America.

The initiative presented by the Biden regime as “new and historic” to stimulate economic recovery and growth in the Americas is neither historic nor new after the Monroe Doctrine.

At the Ninth Summit of the Americas held in Los Angeles in June, the U.S. unveiled this newest version of the Alliance for Economic Prosperity (APEP), reminiscent of the American Initiative (EAI) launched by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Promising to create a «free trade zone extending from Port of Anchorage to Tierra del Fuego», it briefly became popular in Latin America, and its message was the main theme of the first four summits of the Americas since 1994. However, the U.S. acted only in its own self-interest, ignoring the legitimate concerns of Latin American countries. As a result, the Americas disagreed on issues such as agricultural subsidies, and the initiative ultimately failed.

Donald Trump launched the Growth in the Americas initiative in 2019, which actually followed the principle of «America First» and served American interests. That initiative was abandoned at the end of Trump’s presidency.

The Biden administration’s second attempt could not and did not improve the situation in Latin American countries. But this does not prevent the United States from assuring that APEP follows «high standards» such as American-style democracy, like human rights policies, environmental protection and transparency.

It is possible that this initiative by Biden and his administration will live until November 2024. And then either Trump or DeSantis will come up with another scare trap for the continent’s southern neighbors.

The main calculation is that all measures taken must meet American standards. If APEP follows in the footsteps of its predecessors and allows the U.S. to dictate everything, Latin America will find itself at an impasse because many of the so-called norms do not match local realities.

The United States’ use of terms such as «growth», «prosperity», and «partnership» demonstrates that Washington is fully aware of Latin America’s desire for its own, not North American, respect and development. But the fact is that this cannot happen by definition. The U.S. won’t allow it.

«We want to make sure that our closest neighbors [in Latin America] know that they have a real choice between debt-trap diplomacy and high-quality, transparent approaches to infrastructure and development», Biden said slyly, announcing a new investment program aimed at providing “billions of dollars” to Latin American and Caribbean countries as an alternative to China’s (read debt-trap) deals in the region.

Well, the US doesn’t really have that money to get Latin America out of China’s «debt trap». They are also bluffing to put Latinos in their «debt trap». Brazil and Argentina — the two largest economies in South America — which did not join APEP, preferring BRICS, know this for sure.

The problem is that the United States does not have enough resources to withstand the flood of Chinese investment in infrastructure, telecommunications, digital networks, and natural resource development, among other things.

Will the U.S. be able to offer something compelling to help developing countries deal with real problems and gradually achieve economic prosperity? Not likely. The United States has ceased to be a country responsible for its words and has become a chatterbox that offers and promises things it cannot, and more importantly, does not want to deliver. This is already tiresome, and soon the world community may be completely fed up with it. Including Europe.