USA, concerned about the advance of China in Latin America | International

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The ambassador nominated by the Joe Biden government to represent her country in Honduras, Laura Dogu, will arrive in Tegucigalpa with a mission that Washington considers strategic: to convince President Xiomara Castro to maintain relations with Taiwan, the island that China considers rebel and whose diplomacy has been focused on distributing millions of dollars to Central American countries in exchange for recognizing their sovereignty. Despite this support, Central America is increasingly turning to China and Taiwan is slowly losing its allies in the region. The last to break relations with the island has been the Daniel Ortega regime, which even seized the Taiwanese diplomatic headquarters in Managua. Ortega, desperate to find support after the isolation imposed by the international community, has even sent his children to China as emissaries, hoping to obtain a new lifeline that will allow him to maintain his authoritarian regime.

Ortega’s abrupt breakup took the Taiwanese government by surprise, which had become the regime’s main ally, in a highly criticized relationship in Nicaragua: while the international community isolated Ortega, Taiwan maintained its financing in Managua despite the brutal repression against massive demonstrations that demanded a change of direction, the murder of hundreds of demonstrators, the imprisonment of opponents, the closure of the media and the successive denunciations of human rights violations.

The Taiwanese diplomatic headquarters, interested in maintaining the recognition of Managua, maintained an eloquent silence in the face of these atrocities. Taiwan financed 27 projects in the areas of food production, fruit crops and superior quality pig farming, worth between 30 million and 50 million dollars, according to data from the Nicaraguan government. “We regret that the government of President Ortega has ignored the many years of friendship between the peoples of Taiwan and Nicaragua,” said the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry. “As a member of the international community, Taiwan has the right to exchange and develop diplomatic relations with other countries,” he added. Washington was the first country to criticize Ortega’s decision and assured that Taiwan provides “significant economic and security benefits to the citizens of those countries” with which it maintains diplomatic ties.

The rupture was violent and humiliating, to the point that Ortega ordered the confiscation of the Taiwan diplomatic headquarters in Managua, which the island had symbolically sold to the Nicaraguan Catholic Church. “Taiwan will undertake the appropriate international legal procedures to protect its diplomatic property and ensure that Nicaragua is held accountable for its act, illegal from the point of view of international law,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. For Taipei, the confiscation of its embassy “is part of China’s explicit and aggressive intention to annex Taiwan, which seriously contravenes international norms and damages regional peace and stability.

Although relations with a power like China can bring economic benefits to Nicaragua (it is a huge market of 1.4 billion people and an industry that exports products at a lower cost), Tiziano Breda, analyst for Central America at the International Crisis Group, He believes that it may also have political advantages for an authoritarian regime like Ortega’s. “China offers an opportunity for support in multilateral forums such as the UN Human Rights Council, or the UN itself. It can also counterbalance international criticism on certain internal issues from the United States or Europe,” explains Breda, referring to the demands of Washington and Brussels to release political prisoners, denounce human rights abuses and demand elections. free and transparent in Nicaragua. “When an attempt was made to bring Nicaragua before the UN Security Council, China and Russia opposed it, they vetoed a draft resolution,” recalls Breda. “I think that in the end what Daniel Ortega is looking for is to insert Nicaragua into this geopolitical contest between these three powers. [EE UU, China y Rusia] and make the United States uncomfortable”, warns the analyst.

Taiwan is less and less helped by its dollar diplomacy and the squandering of millions among its allies, mainly Latin Americans. Nicaragua is the eighth country to abandon Taiwan for China in five years, after Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Panama, El Salvador, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati. This leaves the Government of Taipei with only fourteen countries with which it maintains formal diplomatic relations, mainly concentrated in Latin America and the Caribbean, reports Macarena Vidal Liy. At the beginning of February, the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, began a five-day tour of Russia and China to attract investment. China aspires to invest billions of dollars in the South American country, in projects ranging from dams in Patagonia to a nuclear power plant in the province of Buenos Aires.

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This advance of China in the region keeps the Administration of US President Joe Biden concerned, who has entrusted the Laura Dogu embassy, ​​designated as its representative in Tegucigalpa, with a containment strategy to prevent the Government of Xiomara Castro from breaking relations with Taiwan. , a decision that the president had contemplated during her campaign, although after taking office she assured that she will maintain ties with the island.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate in Washington on February 9, Dogu assured that he will work to “foster” Honduras’s relationship with Taiwan. “If confirmed, I will make clear the importance of the Honduran-Taiwan relationship and will do my best to enhance Honduran partnerships with other democracies,” the diplomat said. For Washington, the issue is so important that even some senators have called on Castro not to let himself be convinced by Beijing’s promises. Republican Marco Rubio, a staunch critic of leftist governments in the region, described the island as “a model” and demanded that Dogu “use his extensive previous diplomatic experience, including in very difficult places like Nicaragua,” so that Honduras remains as an ally of Taiwan.

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