Latin America in Focus Podcast


LatAmFocus: Brian A. Nichols on the Biden Administration's Latin America Policy

Washington’s top diplomat for the Americas talks with AS/COA’s Eric Farnsworth on U.S. regional priorities, including positions on Haiti and Venezuela.

While many parts of the world command Washington’s attention, there’s a lot going on close to home. So what defines U.S. foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere?

Hours before U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, the State Department’s Brian A. Nichols laid out the state of U.S. policy in the region at an event hosted by Americas Society/Council of the Americas. In a conversation with AS/COA Vice President Eric Farnsworth, Nichols, the assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, went over shared goals in the Americas, ranging from supply chain collaboration to renewable energy.

Brian Nichols

In particular, the ambassador discussed the unfolding political crisis in Haiti, as gangs have taken over most of capital city Port-au-Prince. "We’ve got to do more, urgently,” said Nichols. “The crisis in Haiti has the humanitarian proportions that demand a global response in [the same way] the international community is responding to the challenges in Ukraine or in Gaza.”

In the case of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro announced this month that the country will hold presidential elections on July 28, earlier than most expected. Opposition candidate María Corina Machado, who won an opposition primary of high turnout, is banned from the race by the regime. Will Washington roll back steps taken last year to ease sanctions?

“The incentives that we, and I think others in the international community, have put on the table to move toward a competitive election in Venezuela have not been sufficient to motivate reforms and openness that the Maduro side believes would put their administration at risk,” the diplomat said.

But there are also opportunities to focus on, whether renewable energy and critical mineral conversations with Argentina or the trade relationship with Mexico. Regarding the latter, Nichols said, “Approaching the relationship and our shared border as an opportunity to be taken advantage of, and not a problem to solve, is vital. We're talking about our largest economic partner on Earth—bigger than China, bigger than Canada.”

Nichols also reaffirmed the Biden administration’s attentiveness to the region, saying, "Our commitment to the Western Hemisphere has not and will not falter."

Latin America in Focus Podcast

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Episode produced and text written by Jon Orbach. The executive producer is Luisa Leme. Carin Zissis is the host. 

The music in this podcast is Arrecife Urbano, performed by Cuarteto de Guitarras de Costa Rica for Americas Society. Find out about upcoming concerts at: 

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