Blinken seeks to shore up democracy on South America trip – Yahoo News
Antony Blinken's maiden trip to South America as secretary of state is to two of the continent's strongest democracies, Ecuador and Colombia. Both at home and abroad, the high-level visit is being regarded as a show of support for allies in a turbulent region increasingly rent by ideological splits and facing challenges from organised crime and drug-trafficking.
On Tuesday, he met recently elected Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso and Foreign Minister Mauricio Montalvo. He has a sit-down scheduled on Wednesday with Colombian President Iván Duque and Vice-President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez.
The meetings in Ecuador and Colombia will give the American secretary of state a chance to address a number of pressing concerns in a region that is geographically close to the US, but not always at the top of its diplomatic agenda.
Venezuela: The Nicolas Maduro regime has been a thorn in the US side through three presidential administrations. Now President Joe Biden's team will take its turn trying to rally regional support for democratic reforms in the socialist-run nation. The effort is off to a rocky start, however, with Maduro cancelling talks last weekend with the Venezuelan opposition coalition led by Juan Guaido following the extradition to the US of a Colombian businessman accused of money laundering for the Maduro regime.
During a press conference in Quito on Tuesday, Blinken said Maduro's action was "deeply unfortunate" and was indicative of a leader putting his personal interests over those of the people he should serve.
The standoff is casting a shadow over next month's regional elections, which the US has warned already appeared unlikely to produce a free and fair result.
"Irregular" Migration: Venezuela's political and economic crises have created an outflow of millions of refugees into Colombia, Ecuador and other nearby nations, threatening to destabilise the region. Of similar concern to the US, however, is the role South American countries have served as "transit nations" for migrants from elsewhere. The recent unprecedented surge of Haitian migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border had its origin in countries like Chile and Brazil, where dwindling job opportunities and new immigration restrictions prompted recent arrivals and long-term residents alike to consider the arduous journey north in the hope that the US would be more welcoming.
Brian Nichols, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said in a pre-trip briefing that the Haitian situation will be a "substantial focus" of a regional ministerial meeting in Bogota on Thursday – and that every country in South America has a shared responsibility in stemming the migrant flow.
China: In Quito on Wednesday morning, Blinken is scheduled to give an address on "democracy and good governance". Part of the purpose of this trip, according to Nichols, is to underline what the US sees as the "vibrant and inclusive" democracies of Colombia and Ecuador. Unstated is the contrast the US wants to draw with decidedly undemocratic China – as the strategic and economic rivalry between the two global powers plays out across South America.
On Tuesday, Blinken said that the US partnership with Ecuador was not defined by any third country and that no nation should have to choose between the US and China.
But he followed that with a warning – that in certain "narrowly defined areas", working with China comes with risks; that Chinese companies, when push comes to shove, will do the bidding of the Chinese government.
Free and open democracies, the American thinking goes, will be more inclined to become "partners of choice" with the US than with authoritarian China. That marks a distinct contrast with the Trump administration, whose "America first" foreign policy was more transactional and less focused on a partner nation's governance.
This change in US outlook fits neatly with Biden's rhetorical emphasis on what he sees as an era-defining struggle between the world's democracies and authoritarian governments.
"Ultimately we're focused together on demonstrating that democracies can achieve tangible results for our people," Blinken said. "That's the test."
But if South American nations do have to pick a side, the American hope is that they look north, not across the Pacific.
Reports in Colombian and Ecuador's media highlighted US officials saying that Blinken's presence in these countries was intended as a "clear sign" of support for "vibrant and inclusive democracies that respect the rights of their citizens".
These reports also noted that Ecuador and Colombia and Latin America as a whole, as well as the United States, were grappling with the phenomenon of big surges of migrants on the move. The installation over the last year of left-wing governments in Bolivia and Peru had also reduced the numbers of Washington's friends in the Andean region.
A 19 October editorial in leading Ecuadorean daily El Comercio noted that after a decade in which bilateral ties were distant during the 2007-17 rule of the country's left-wing President Rafael Correa, Ecuador and the US had resumed a closer relationship after 2017 and Blinken's visit would strengthen relations with the current government of President Guillermo Lasso.
El Comercio predicted that Lasso's government would be looking for more generous US co-operation to help it fight corruption and confront threats from transnational drug cartels.
In a move that appeared to reflect these growing problems, President Lasso late on 18 October declared a 60-day state of emergency that mobilised the army and police to fight "insecurity".
In Colombia, leading daily El Espectador published an opinion column on 19 October that said Blinken's visit would seek to bolster the Colombian-US "special relationship" in the midst of a "difficult panorama". The column was written by former foreign minister Rodrigo Pardo.
Pardo commented: "The most pessimistic analysts consider that democracy itself is in danger in the region". Citing the cases of Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Nicaragua, he added: "That is why the visit by Blinken in these turbulent times… is as complex as it is crucial".
Additional reporting by BBC Monitoring
Is Trump's power over Republicans starting to slip?
How 'Let's go Brandon' became an anti-Biden jeer
Five ways this Supreme Court could change America
Biden meets Boris: Shared interests but bumps remain
How critical race theory is dividing the US
Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso on Monday declared a state of emergency in the country grappling with a surge in drug-related violence, and ordered the mobilization of police and military in the streets.
The race to fill the District 5 seat on the Miami City Commission has attracted seven candidates, including an appointed incumbent with past financial problems, a well-funded challenger with political connections and a few newcomers.
Kanye stirred up conversation after posting a photo of his new haircut. The unveiling comes shortly after news arrived that he changed his name to Ye.
A state of emergency is in place for the next two months, allowing soldiers to patrol the streets.
According to the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH), “simple acts such as eating well, moving often and being creative are small practices in one’s daily life that can truly turn a person’s mental state around.”
Zendaya, Timothée Chalamet, Jason Momoa, and other celebs arrive at the UK special screening of "Dune."
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is fully vaccinated but tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday morning. DHS says his symptoms are mild.
West Virginia has been at the center of a debate over the place of climate change measures in Joe Biden's domestic agenda. The results of this domestic policy fight will have a global impact
Latina state senator Annette Taddeo announced she will run for governor of Florida, entering a Democratic primary against Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused the EU of "blackmail" on Tuesday in a public clash with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen over his country's rejection of parts of EU law. The European Union in videographic. VIDEOGRAPHIC
U.S. SEC. OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN: “Colin Powell dedicated his extraordinary life to public service because he never stopped believing in America. And we believe in America in no small part because it helped produce someone like Colin Powell.”Tributes poured in Monday for former Secretary of State and top military general Colin Powell, who died at age 84. Current Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Powell’s life “a victory” for the military, the nation… “and in a larger sense, a victory for the American dream.” President Joe Biden described Powell as (quote) “a dear friend and a patriot of unmatched honor and dignity” who (quote) “embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat.” Biden added that Powell could also (quote) “drive his Corvette Stingray like nobody's business." Powell served under three Republican presidents – as national security advisor for Ronald Reagan, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs for George H.W. Bush and as secretary of state for George W. Bush. And he was the first Black person to serve in each of those roles, Vice President Kamala Harris noted on Monday. “When he filled those roles, he was, by everything that he did and the way he did it, inspiring so many people.” George W. Bush recalled that many presidents relied on Powell’s counsel, adding he was (quote) “such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice." But it was under Bush that Powell delivered what he later called (quote) “a blot” that would “always be part” of his record – making Bush’s case to the U.N. Security Counsel that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. It was the basis for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Powell later admitted that his presentation was rife with inaccuracies provided by others in the administration. In 2008, Powell broke with his party to endorse Democrat Barack Obama.Obama on Monday called Powell an exemplary soldier and patriot, adding, “although he'd be the first to acknowledge that he didn't get every call right, his actions reflected what he believed was best for America and the people he served.”Powell died of complications from COVID-19. He had previously been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, that was in remission and early stage Parkinson's disease, a close friend of his told Reuters. The blood cancer reduces the body’s ability to fight infection and puts people at higher risk for severe COVID. In a brief statement, the Powell family said he had been fully vaccinated and thanked the staff at the Walter Reed Medical Center who treated him.
British plans to curb the influence of the European Court of Human Rights could lead to Brussels tearing up the Brexit trade deal, the EU has warned.
Twenty-four hours after Hollywood police officer Yandy Chirino was killed while on duty, the neighborhood where he was shot is marked with a sea of blue ribbons. https://cbsloc.al/3lRwUUE
Abuse is abuse, no matter what form it takes.View Entire Post ›
A boast by the leader of Hezbollah that he commands 100,000 fighters came as a surprise to many Lebanese, not least because it was addressed to a domestic audience rather than the militia's archenemy Israel. Experts say the figure, which exceeds the size of Lebanon's army by about 15,000 troops, is an exaggeration. “This is more about flexing Hezbollah’s muscles to demonstrate its power against other opposing political parties that want to undermine it,” said Dina Arakji, a researcher at Control Risks, a Dubai-based global risk consultancy group.
The White House press secretary asked the Fox News reporter a question he couldn't answer.
“I lost my mind," said the conservative personality.
Comedy CentralJordan Klepper hadn’t attended a Trump rally since he inadvertently found himself in the middle of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, “a day no one will ever forget, unless you’re a Republican member of Congress,” the Daily Show contributor joked in his latest dispatch. But this past week, Klepper boldly returned to the scene, trolling the crowd at the former president’s big Iowa event for the most embarrassing devotees he could find.What he discovered more than anything was banners, flag
The former president is jealous of how the media is covering the late Republican's death
A top official from the Obama-era Justice Department cited multiple weaknesses with former President Donald Trump's lawsuit against the Capitol riot committee and the National Archives.