President Biden Should Not Underestimate Challenges in Latin America
The new administration will have trouble finding partners to defend democracy in the region.
As the Biden administration begins to undo Donald Trump’s legacy in Latin America, many in the region appear guardedly optimistic about the prospects for more constructive relations with their northern neighbor. President Biden’s rapid turn toward a more humane immigration policy sends a powerful message, and he has promised an approach driven by national (not personal) interests and values, with a renewed commitment to democracy, human rights and anti-corruption. He has also assigned urgency to combating climate change.
Latin America’s downward spiral, which began in 2013, has vaporized economic and social gains made over the preceding decade. Both left- and right-leaning governments have failed to deliver: The middle class has shrunk while extreme poverty and joblessness have surged, triggering social discontent and upheaval. Politics has become more polarized and confrontational, and satisfaction with democracy has reached its lowest level in decades. Today the region is fertile ground for authoritarian rule.
Margaret Myers, Director of the Dialogue’s Asia & Latin America Program, testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the subject of “Dollar Diplomacy or Debt Trap? Examining China’s Role in the Western Hemisphere.”
This analysis offers a glimpse of the potential impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on US immigrants and family remittances. Past events involving worldwide crises can offer insight as to how this pandemic will likely affect remittance transfers. Considering migrants’ financial and health vulnerabilities as well as the forecast recession, a conservative estimate shows that remittances will register a -3 percent decline in 2020 relative to 2019, from $77 billion to $75 billion.