Vice President Joe Biden travels to Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala this week on a diplomatic tour to reinforce the economic and political relationships with the four countries.
The White House added Guatemala at the end of the trip to meet with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina as well as senior officials from Honduras and El Salvador to try to stop the flow of unaccompanied minors being sent across the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Obama administration is dealing a humanitarian crisis with an influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the Southern border to come to the U.S. So far this fiscal year, about 47,000 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended at the border, nearly doubling last years numbers.
The Vice President is now a veteran of Latin American diplomacy as he has consistently been President Obamas emissary to the region during his administration and travels to South America and the Caribbean with the aims of strengthening economic and security ties, while also taking in some world-class soccer.
Biden commences his trip by attending on Monday the United States national teams first tournament match in Natal, Brazil, where they will take on an African opponent in Ghana.
The U.S. enters the World Cup with high hopes, riding a recent surge in the sports popularity back home. As they begin group play, theyll be counting on the support of the nations second in line. Following the match, Vice President Biden will journey to Brazils capital, Brasilia, to meet with Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff.
Dealing with a recent wave of public protests due to general social discontent surrounding the World Cup, Biden and Rousseff will discuss the delicate state of the South American nation.
Faced with a substantial public deficit and the divesting of government funds for the building of World Cup stadiums and facilitieswhich have uncertain long-term prospects, at bestBrazilians have taken to the streets to protest the inappropriate use of funds, which they believe should be invested in the improvement of public health and education instead.
Following his visit to Brazil, Biden will make the short journey north to Bogota to meet with the newly re-elected President Juan Manuel Santos.
After a months-long campaign season, President Santos bested his challengerformer finance minster Oscar Ivan Zuluaga of the Democratic Center Partyon Sunday in the run-off election.
Santos won on a proposal to end Colombias decades-long civil war by finalizing on-going peace talks with the FARC militia, which would grant militia members fuller participatory rights in the Colombian political system in exchange for their giving up their military and drug-trafficking aims.
Finally, Biden will conclude his trip in the island of Hispaniola where he will meet with Dominican Republic president, Danilo Medina, to discuss the ongoing turmoil in the Caribbean nation surrounding the Supreme Courts earlier decision to deem Dominicans born to Haitian parents non-citizens.
The decision to take away their citizenship has since been reversed by a new law which re-grants these Dominicans their citizenship upon the demonstration of their birth certificate. And yet, controversy and outrage persist because as the Los Angeles Times explains, those who never had birth certificates will have to prove that they were born in the country and apply for naturalization.
Considering a potential candidate in the 2016 election, Biden would do well to embrace the opportunity for a public and successful diplomatic campaign as he heads to Brazil, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic.
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