Kamala Harris' Biggest Task Is in Latin America, but She's Spent Just 3 Days There

By Noah Bierman

"Have we seen dramatic change in Central America? The answer is no," said AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth to the Los Angeles Times.

Vice President Kamala Harris has spent just three days in Latin America since President Joe Biden assigned her 15 months ago to tackle migration issues in Central America — half as long as First Lady Jill Biden devoted during a single trip to the region last month.

The lack of travel is a reminder of what some observers see as ambivalence from Harris toward a high-profile issue that is politically fraught at home and challenging abroad as she embarks Monday on a week of diplomacy at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. The issue of migration is certain to take center stage at the conference, a meeting of nations across the Western Hemisphere intended to showcase U.S. leadership in the region as the Biden administration seeks to tackle such complex challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. […]

Though the issues are tougher today than a decade ago, many veterans of Latin American policy saw the opportunity for Harris to expand the assignment and position herself as a key player throughout the hemisphere, just as Biden had done, even before he was officially asked to work on Central America. The then-vice president traveled to Latin America 16 times over eight years.

“He was doing some tough diplomacy…It wasn’t go and show the flag and eat the local cuisine,” said Eric Farnsworth, who leads the Washington office of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society, a think tank focusing on the region. “That type of role is what many of us anticipated that the current vice president would be doing.”

Farnsworth credits Harris with bringing “high-level attention to some really difficult issues” in the three countries she was tasked with improving. But he also noted there hasn’t been much progress.

Kamala Harris has brought "attention to some really difficult issues" in the three countries she was tasked with improving, but there hasn't been much progress 

“Have we seen dramatic change in Central America?” he added. “The answer is no.”…

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