President Trump’s trip to the Summit of the Americas in Peru will mark his first visit to Latin America. After Peru, the president will travel to Colombia, where he will meet with outgoing president Juan Manuel Santos. To provide insight and analysis prior to this visit, the Inter-American Dialogue and the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center assembled a private press roundtable of leading analysts and journalists on April 4.
Michael Shifter, president of the Dialogue, and Jason Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, opened the event with introductory remarks. They highlighted key issues that could be addressed at the Summit such as the political and economic crisis in Venezuela, the conflicts on trade escalated by the role of China in the region, the rhetoric surrounding migration into the United States, and corruption, the official theme of this year’s meeting. In Colombia, Trump is expected to make a statement on Venezuela and discuss narcotics issues and drug policy, which could have important implications for the future of the US-Colombia relationship as Colombians prepare to elect a new president in May.
The panel of experts stressed that there is potential for these meetings to build the foundations for positive change, especially regarding anti-corruption measures. However, many also suggested that the Summit comes at a tense and uncertain time for the Americas and that this may disrupt the creation of a comprehensive regional strategy at the meeting. Ultimately, the US should take this opportunity to step back and listen to attending leaders in an effort to forge a constructive agenda in the hemisphere.