US President Donald Trump receives his Peruvian counterpart Pedro Pablo Kuczynski on Friday as the first meeting with a Latin American leader in the White House since the Republican’s inauguration a month ago.
After meeting with the new Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, on Friday morning in New York, Kuczynski will travel the same day to Washington for the meeting with Trump, scheduled for 3:00 pm local time (20:00 GMT).
The leaders will talk about “protecting free trade in the Americas and in the world,” said Kuczynski.
“We are going to talk about the political perspectives and also about our fellow Peruvians living in the United States,” he added.
Free trade separates Kuczynski, while the former defends the issue, the latter promises sanctions on companies that shift their production abroad and threatens to set tariffs on imports from Mexico.
But they will have a common point regarding Venezuela: both have criticized President Nicolás Maduro.
The meeting may be uncomfortable for the Peruvian leader, who in September described as “a crime” the plan of then-candidate Donald Trump to build a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico.
Kuzcynski, a right-wing liberal who ran a private fund to promote access to water, also criticized Trump’s cabinet, saying the environment was “under attack.”
The first president of a Latin American country to visit Trump must have been the Mexican Enrique Peña Nieto, who canceled the meeting in the middle of the diplomatic crisis generated by the US wanting to build the wall on the border between the two countries.
Kuczynski’s visit was announced unexpectedly Wednesday in Lima, taking advantage of the fact that the Peruvian president will attend February 25 at Princeton University, where he will receive a prize as an outstanding alumnus and participate in a conference.
At Princeton, in the state of New Jersey, the Peruvian president will travel by train, a spokesman for the Peruvian embassy told CTN News. At the end of the day on Saturday will fly back to Peru.
Kuczynski, who took power in July 2016, arrives in the United States at a time when Latin America and the world are watching Trump, who is erecting a government very different from that of his predecessor, the Democrat Barack Obama.
The US president opted to leave the Transpacific Treaty (TPP), of which Peru is part, although criticism of the White House has not pointed to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Peru and the United States, adopted in 2009.
Unlike Mexico, Peru’s trade balance, which mainly exports minerals and hydrocarbons to the United States, is negative
Despite the differences, the situation in Venezuela is an important point of consensus.
Kuzcynski has called on Latin American countries to unite to resolve what he has called a “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela, because of the chronic lack of medicines and food.
On his side, in just over a month in office, Trump urged the release of opposition leader Leopoldo López, and the Treasury Department imposed sanctions -produced by an investigation initiated during the Obama administration- to Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accused Of drug trafficking.
The leaders could also talk about former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, who was wanted in his country on corruption charges, who would be in the US city of San Francisco, and whose deportation was asked of Trump.
Trump practically ignored relations with Latin America during the campaign, and concentrated his most poisoned darts, on the balance of trade or immigration, in Mexico, the second trading partner of the United States and the origin of half of the undocumented people living in the United States.
Peru, one of the world’s largest producers of cocaine and coca leaf, is considered an ally of Washington in the fight against drug trafficking.
How ironic is that I ask you?