Biden Administration Appeases Latin American Enemies While Punching American Friends

The Biden administration last week rewarded Latin America’s two dictatorial regimes most vehemently opposed to American values, Cuba and Venezuela, and punished one of the last regional governments to support the United States, Guatemala.

The last part was not a surprise for both of us. As we both heard from the President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, in his presidential palace late last month, the Biden administration has been trying to destabilize his elected government for months. Yet the dramatic moves in Latin America this week were unexpected.

Within 24 hours, the Biden administration announced it was easing economic sanctions against the Marxist dictatorship in Venezuela, increasing consular services and effectively allowing tourism and increasing remittances to communist-controlled Cuba, but had also decided to ban the new prosecutor. General of Guatemala to visit U.S. Biden’s brutal treatment of the Guatemalan government and his way of coddling the region’s pro-China and pro-Russia Marxist dictatorships, goes against reason. Giammattei’s government is pro-Taiwan, the latest Central American country to reject communist China, and it is also pro-Israel. More importantly, he is pro-American.

Yet at the palace on April 26, Giammattei accused the US ambassador to Guatemala, William Popp, “of meeting with indigenous leaders” to plan to overthrow him. “They want to overthrow my government,” he told the two of us in Spanish, using the unambiguous verb “derrocar.“Giammattei told us that the Biden administration was trying to introduce in Guatemala a version of multiculturalism that the administration and its national allies are pushing in the United States.

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This is called “Indigenism,” a nationalism that prioritizes tribe over nation-state, much as critical race theory gloats over racial category in the United States. Giammattei told us that he had already decided to ask the United States Agency for International Development to leave. Guatemala because of its promotion of indigenism. A review of USAID programs confirms that the agency has a strong focus on working with Indigenous groups and other left-wing activist groups and nongovernmental organizations who, we also tell business leaders, do little to promote, if not outright interfere with, growth and foreign direct investment. in Guatemala.

While strengthening civil society should be a core pillar of USAID’s work, the agency should not be tasked with funding an activist program. USAID says it wants to “redefine its relationship with the government of Guatemala” by pursuing “substantial partnerships” with stakeholders outside the central government. “They want to do here what they did in Chile,” Giammattei told us, in a clear reference to the Chilean left’s current attempt to change the Chilean Constitution and turn the country into a “plurinational state.”

As many critics of the indigenist movement point out, collective rights are deeply undemocratic. Chilean political analyst Ricardo Israel warns that Chile’s proposed constitution would be “the first postmodern constitution, since it is identity rather than citizenship that will define rights.”

In the case of Guatemala, it would be much more destabilizing. The pluri-nationalists in Chile have been careful to carve out 11 “nationalities”, even though Chile has very few indigenous tribes. Guatemala has 23 authentic groups, each with its own language. Giammattei said the reason the Biden administration, zealously pro-abortion, despises his government is that it is unequivocally pro-life. Giammattei also completed the removal of the highly politicized UN-backed “anti-corruption” commission. “I closed all the spaces left. That’s why they don’t like me.” Allegations of corruption are denied by the president.

Giammattei said, for example, that Popp warned him not to reappoint Consuelo Porras as attorney general. Giammattei ignored the warnings, however, and did so on May 16. The State Department responded the same day saying that Porras had “repeatedly obstructed and undermined anti-corruption investigations in Guatemala.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted Monday evening that “the corrupt acts of Attorney General Porras are undermining democracy in Guatemala”.

If even half of what Giammattei told us is true, however, it’s hard to see how it’s not the Biden administration that’s undermining Guatemalan democracy. Giammattei complains of being harassed by the White House, the State Department and Vice President Kamala Harris. While concerns about corruption in Latin America are real and important for channeling transnational organized crime and strengthening the rule of law, the double standard demonstrated by the Biden administration is disconcerting.

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The same day it sanctioned Guatemala’s attorney general, the administration lifted sanctions against Nicolas Maduro’s nephew, a former high-ranking regime crony. In other words, the Biden administration seems perfectly willing to attack a democratically elected government and a critical U.S. partner on immigration and security issues under the banner of fighting corruption while giving a financial lifeline. to criminals linked to the dictator of Caracas.

For all of Giammattei’s drawbacks, his government can serve American interests better than those of left-controlled neighbors like Honduras and Nicaragua. Congress should start asking questions, especially why the attorney general and her husband are being disciplined. It should also block future funding for USAID programs that undermine the stability of our allies.

Indeed, surveillance was one of the last things Giammattei mentioned: “I want to come to Washington to brief the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on what’s going on here.”

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