Biden Promises a New Era with Latin America and the Caribbean. How Much Can He Really Do?

By Nora Gámez Torres and Jacqueline Charles

"You're going to hear a lot more about partnerships and working together," said AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth to Miami Herald.

As president, Donald Trump focused much of U.S. policy in Latin America on curbing migration and clamping down on autocratic leaders in Venezuela, Cuba, and occasionally, Nicaragua — three countries coined the “troika of tyranny” by one of his former advisors…

“Clearly on day one, the day of the inauguration, the tone will change,” said Eric Farnsworth, a former State Department official and vice president of the Council of the Americas, a Washington-based think tank. “You are going to hear a lot more about partnerships and working together, and a lot less about rapists and murderers.”

Still, Farnsworth does not believe that Western Hemisphere policy will rise to Biden’s top priorities given the myriad of U.S. challenges he’s inheriting. He acknowledges, however, that many of the issues the president-elect has said he plans to focus on — climate change, COVID-19 relief, permanent residency for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status recipients — have foreign policy implications for the region.

Biden will need to rebuild the “muscle memory of working together on a bigger agenda,” Farnsworth said, a task that is going to be difficult.

“It’s not a matter of dismantling this or that policy, but rather, in four years, the hemisphere has really changed quite a lot,” Farnsworth said. ”Trump left a very cynical approach to transactionalism. ‘If you do this for me, I will do this for you. If you don’t do this, I will sanction you.’ …

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