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Although perhaps justified by the tragic events in Syria, President Trump’s last-minute decision to skip the eighth Summit of the Americas, which begins this week in Lima, Peru, was discouraging to his Latin American and Caribbean counterparts. Most probably see it as confirmation of his continuing indifference to the region. His aggressive rhetoric and erratic policies have already roiled inter-American relations and left the hemisphere’s leaders disconcerted.
Several White House decisions have been criticized as openly hostile to Latin America, including the ordering of National Guard troops to the Mexican border and the undoing of programs that now shield millions of immigrants from deportation. Particularly unnerving has been the president’s obsession with erecting a wall along the border. Also resented are the Trump administration’s threat to unilaterally rewrite international trade rules, levy protectionist tariffs and possibly scrap the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.
Washington’s moves to revive the futile “war on drugs” are unwelcome. So is the renewed hard-line approach to Cuba, reversing much of President Barack Obama’s opening, which was heralded throughout the region and brought Raúl Castro to his first summit meeting three years ago. He is expected in Lima as well.