VP Harris Looks to Show Her Clout at Summit of the Americas

By Amy Taxin, Chris Megerian, and Joshua Goodman

"Corruption is a huge problem, but clearly there are more delicate ways to handle [migration]," said AS/COA's Brian Winter to the Associated Press.

Vice President Kamala Harris will have an opportunity to connect with leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean as she welcomes them to her home state this week for the Summit of the Americas. But whether she can demonstrate her clout at the hemisphere’s premier gathering — being held on U.S. soil for the first time since 1994 — remains an open question.

Since Joe Biden’s days crisscrossing Latin America as vice president, the region’s leaders have come to expect direct access to powerful interlocutors inside the White House. However, other than Harris taking on the thankless task of addressing the root causes of migration, for which progress has been slow, the region has seen little of her — a symptom, experts say, of larger U.S. neglect of the region. [...]

Brian Winter, vice president of the Council of the Americas, said Harris got off on the wrong foot as Biden’s point person assigned to address the root social and economic causes driving migrants to the U.S. In a May 2021 policy speech delivered to Winter’s international business group from Washington, Harris, a former California prosecutor, mentioned corruption no fewer than 10 times, stirring resentment in a region where leaders are sensitive to taking lectures from U.S. policymakers.

"Corruption is a huge problem, but clearly there are more delicate ways to handle this,” said Winter. “A lot of doors closed even before she got on the ground.”...

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