President Trump cancels Latin American trip ahead of Summit of Americas

Latin America

A man walks outside the Lima Convention Centre in Lima, on April 10, 2018 ahead of the Eighth Summit of the Americas. The summit, which is to include heads of state and government from the Western Hemisphere, takes place April 13-14. (AFP PHOTO / Cris BOURONCLE)

The White House has announced that President Donald Trump will not travel to Latin America this week. He was set to attend the Summit of the Americas in Peru. Trump will be the first U.S. president not to attend the Summit since it began in 1994.

CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports from Lima.

It would have been President Trump’s first visit to Latin America as U.S. president. Regardless, the White House announced he would not travel to the Summit of the Americas in Peru. He would also not be making a follow-up trip to Colombia, as previously planned.

In a statement, it said Trump would instead remain in the U.S. to oversee the American response to a suspected chemical attack in Syria. Vice President Mike Pence will step in to meet with leaders from across the Americas in the president’s place.

The eighth summit of the Americas is seen as a key meeting point for the countries in the western hemisphere. The theme for the event: governability, democracy and the fight against corruption.

That last talking point couldn’t be more appropriate in the region, as former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was just jailed for corruption on the weekend. Last month, the host country Peru appointed a new president after Pedro Pablo Kuczynski abruptly resigned over graft allegations.

Trump’s absence will speak volumes, said leading Peruvian lawyer Jose Ugaz.

“It will have some impact on the people and the governments that were expecting to hear the word of Trump on the anti-corruption agenda,” Ugaz explained. “On the other hand, it is not surprising that a president like Trump is not in a summit in which corruption is the issue because since the beginning he has showed no interest in the issue.”

It’s also a missed opportunity for President Trump to push the U.S. trade agenda with its neighbors to the south. China has surpassed the U.S. as the top trading partner of several countries, and continues to make massive investments in region.