President Donald Trump will be making his first trip to Latin America next month, attending the Summit of the Americas in Peru and then traveling to Colombia, the White House confirmed Friday.
The Summit of the Americas, which brings together the leaders of every country in the region but Cuba, could also put Trump on an uncomfortable collision course with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
The focus of this year’s summit, which will be held in Lima on April 13 and 14, will be corruption, but the Venezuelan crisis will likely dominate much of the discussion.
Peruvian officials have repeatedly said that Maduro isn’t welcome at the conference because of his administrations’ trampling of democratic norms. But Maduro claims he’s going anyway — although it’s far from clear if he will make good on his threat.
Washington and Caracas have long been at odds. As the Trump administration has been ratcheting up financial and individual sanctions on the South American country, Maduro routinely accuses the United States of fomenting coups and trying to topple his socialist administration.
The tensions come as Venezuela has increasingly been ostracized for its decision to hold snap presidential elections on May 20 that the opposition and many in the international community say will neither be free nor fair.
The Summit of the Americas began during the Bill Clinton administration, and U.S. presidents have participated in all seven previous gatherings. But up until Friday, it was unclear whether Trump would continue the tradition.
After the meeting, Trump is expected to visit neighboring Colombia, one of the United States’ staunchest but most troubled allies in the region.
Colombia’s Foreign Ministry would not provide details about the visit, but it will likely focus on ongoing efforts to eradicate coca crops and implement a historic peace deal with what was the hemisphere’s largest guerrilla group.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos visited the White House in May of 2017, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence returned the visit in August.
El Nuevo Herald Reporter Nora Gamez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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