Written by Meghan Birch, a Ph. D Student, Spanish Linguistics, Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Thursday Ambassador Michael A. Hammer gave a talk that lasted an hour including time for questions and answers, but it felt much shorter as it was filled with engaging and rich content. Ambassador Hammer, a Georgetown graduate and the former U.S. Ambassador to Chile, used his knowledge and experience to talk about the current presidential administration as it pertains to Latin America.
Ambassador Hammer focused on the necessity for healthy and amicable relations between the United States and the countries of Latin America. Most countries in Latin America, aside from Venezuela, are not currently in economic or political crises, and the ambassador remarked that presidential administrations tend to focus on events and crises as they happen. However, it is vital to engage with Latin America and would be rewarding for the current administration. Because most Latin American nations are developing strongly, I believe they could continue to be excellent trade partners for the United States.
The fact that the Trump administration has chosen to step back from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is, in my view, not going to directly benefit United States relations with Latin American countries such as Chile, Peru and Mexico who are part of the agreement. Furthermore, the executive actions taken by President Trump to move forward on the construction of a wall between Mexico and the United States may, in my opinion, cause strains on the United States’ relationship with Mexico in particular.
Nonetheless, I agree with Ambassador Hammer that there are other ways we can promote strong, friendly ties with Latin America. The idea provided by Ambassador Hammer of having a governmental position for a representative who can act as a liaison between Latin American governments and the United States would be a valuable way to connect with these countries. Moreover, I agree with another point that Ambassador Hammer made which was that the United States may find it advantageous to maintain a balance between peaceful relationships with Latin American countries and the right amount of engagement. In other words, I find it necessary to for the United States to have both close ties and a light touch when it comes to Latin America.