Juan, a candle maker and store owner in the Guatemalan city of Solola, once told me something that pretty much sums up the reaction to the current U.S. President throughout much of Latin America: "Donald Trump can go and fuck himself."
Juan, whose last name I am withholding, was referring to the U.S. President's hardcore position on the migration of Central Americans to the United States. Since taking office, Trump and his team, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and current Secretary Mike Pompeo, have promoted their "America First" policy and re-embraced the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted the right of the United States to shape the destiny of Central and South America.
The Trump Administration has maintained close alliances with the governments of Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras. And it has continued, though at lower levels of funding, the efforts of the Alliance for Prosperity, an Obama Administration initiative to curb the migration crisis by stepping up security, generating development, and improving judicial systems.
"The United States is cleaning the table [in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras]," says Jesus Hernandez, a political science professor at the Rafael Landivar University in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. "This is the excuse to further implement [its] control and influence over the region."
Trump's National Security Strategy, published in December 2017, deems China and Russia as threats to U.S. interests and security in the region, including economic and political competition. In 2000, according to an article in Forbes magazine, China represented only 2 percent of trade with Latin American countries, compared to the U.S. share of 53 percent. By 2010, China was controlling 11 percent of trade, with the United States down to 39 percent.
For almost two centuries, instructed by the Monroe Doctrine, the United States has intervened across Latin America to protect U.S. economic and political interests, including through military interventions and support for rightwing dictatorships. In 2013, then-Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking before the Organization of American States, announced an end to the doctrine. But Kerry's announcement was little more than a symbolic shift, and it did not end attempts by the United States to maintain influence across the region. The Trump Administration has thoroughly embraced the doctrine once again.
"They support repressive governments," Mark Weisbrot, co-founder of the Center...