The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to pursue unilateral policies while pinning the blame for a mismanaged national health emergency on others, experts from Latin America said.
Trump has repeatedly tried to scapegoat the World Health Organization, claiming the United States is paying the price for the agency's mishandling of the pandemic, Guatemalan political observer and former diplomat Manuel Villacorta said.
At a time when the international community should be more united than ever, Trump is pulling the U.S. out of the WHO, said Villacorta, who described the move as a grave error.
In fact, the U.S. handling of the health emergency has been "devastating", he said, noting upward of 100,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., more than in any other country, and 40 million people there have lost their jobs and numerous businesses have gone under.
"That's why President Trump is looking to blame someone else. First he did it with China and now he's doing it with the WHO－an unprecedented political mistake," said Villacorta, who served as Guatemala's ambassador to Israel.
Other Latin American observers agree that the U.S. government failed to take action after the WHO declared COVID-19 a global emergency on Jan 30.
Not only did Washington drop the ball on taking timely preventive measures, but its inaction shows that the U.S. is not leading a global initiative against the pandemic, said Argentine political columnist Andres Oppenheimer.
"Instead of launching a serious campaign to promote social distancing, and ordering tests and ventilators, Trump constantly minimized the pandemic," he wrote in a May 4 article.
What Washington is doing is to use the pandemic as an excuse to unilaterally fast-track deportations of undocumented immigrants across the border into Mexico, without considering the health implications amid the pandemic.
A so-called expedited removal, which allows authorities to deport immigrants without going through the normal legal process of holding hearings before an immigration judge, began on March 21. In just weeks, about 10,000 immigrants, many from Central America, had been deported to Mexico.
The prestigious El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, a Mexican research center that studies Mexico-U.S. border issues, recently warned that "the United States' unilateral and rapid deportations of migrants to Mexico at late hours of the night make it difficult to provide these migrants with a medical check-up and follow-up, and raise the possibility that infected persons are entering the country".
According to Claudia Masferrer, a research professor at Mexico City's El Colegio de Mexico, the pandemic has become an excuse for Trump to continue cracking down on migrants.
"For President Trump ... migrants have always been scapegoats for everything," said Masferrer.