|A recent anti-Trump march in Bogotá portrayed Trump as a fascist.|
The White House justified Trump's absence by saying that he needed to focus on events in Syria, where the vicious Assad government recently used poison gas on its own people. That's certainly important. El Tiempo newspaper, however, pointed out that Trump often governs by Twitter, making his excuse less than convincing. Others speculate that Trump wanted to stay in Washington to deal with his mutiple legal troubles stemming from the women who allege they had sexual relationships with him.
The New York Times observes that even before Trump, the U.S. was losing influence in Latin America to China, which is now the largest trading partner of Brazil, Chile and Peru and has made huge infrastructure investments in the region.
Trump had also planned to visit Colombia, one of the few nations which still has lukewarm relations with Washington. But U.S. Vice President Pence, who will replace Trump, will skip Colombia, which he visited last year. Colombia feels stood up, editorializes El Tiempo.
The summit will now lack its two most polemical heads of state, Trump and Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro, who first insisted on participating in the summit and then decided to boycott it after recognizing that he wasn't wanted.
With the two polarizing figures gone, perhaps the rest of the leaders can get something done.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours