In a statement today, Engle said “President Trump is again ceding U.S. leadership in the Americas by skipping the upcoming Summit of the Americas. Since its inception, every U.S. president – from both Republican and Democratic Administrations – has attended the Summit.
If the President of the United States is indeed the leader of the free world, that person should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
“The hemisphere is facing serious challenges, including the crisis in Venezuela, and the U.S. void will be deeply felt. Unfortunately, today’s announcement should come as no surprise from an Administration whose policy toward the region begins with building a wall between our country and our southern neighbors. I urge the President to reconsider his shortsighted decision.” Engle said.
U.S. President Donald Trump cancelled his first official trip to Latin America, on Tuesday, triggering a mix of relief and criticism from a region he has repeatedly disparaged over immigration, narcotics and trade.
Trump wants to focus on his response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, and will send his Vice President Mike Pence to the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, in his place, the White House said. The announcement comes as Trump rails against a Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on the offices and home of his personal lawyer.
Trump's participation in a gathering of heads of state from across the Western Hemisphere had been expected to be tense because of his divisive rhetoric and fraught relationships with leaders such as Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
"We're going to miss him," said Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, who is expected to talk about efforts to update the North American Free Trade Agreement with his counterparts from the United States and Canada.
The cancellation prompted at least once regional leader, Bolivian President Evo Morales, to reconsider attending.
"I wanted to meet the U.S. president face to face to debate economic and social policies," Morales, a critic of Trump, said in a televised comments at a public event.
The cancellation marked a new first for the United States under Trump, who has relished bucking White House traditions since taking office in January 2017. Every Summit of the Americas has been attended by a U.S. president since the first in 1994.
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