Biden in Bogota, Colombia, May 2013
Xinhua / eyevine / Redux

For eight years as vice president, Joe Biden served as the United States’ principal emissary to Latin America and the Caribbean. He took a total of 16 trips to the region, the last of which—to the Colombian city of Cartagena in December 2016—was a victory lap of sorts: Biden congratulated Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on his government’s hard-won peace deal with the Marxist-Leninist insurgency known as the FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

In Cartagena, Biden would have been justified in feeling hopeful about the future of the region. The Colombian peace accord had ended the

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