Jill Biden emphasized the connection the Americas share and President Joe Biden's committment to the region in a speech here
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Jill Biden emphasized the connection the Americas share and President Joe Biden’s committment to the region in a speech here on Thursday.

Her remarks came as some Latin American countries have felt neglected by the Biden administration and the president’s focus on Europe and Chinese influence in the South Pacific. 

‘We are connected, especially in the Americans,’ the first lady said, adding if one nation in the region is vulnerable to authoritarianism or poverty, ‘it won’t be long before those same problems reach us all.’

‘But when nations here in South America embrace democracy you become a living proof that governments can deliver for the people that they represent – inspiring others to follow,’ she said.

She emphasized President Biden’s committment to the region. 

‘You know, Joe, and I hope that you know that he cares deeply about you and I do too. And that’s why I’m here today,’ she said.

‘The United States is committed to Ecuador,’ she said to great applause.

Jill Biden emphasized the connection the Americas share and President Joe Biden's committment to the region in a speech here

Jill Biden emphasized the connection the Americas share and President Joe Biden’s committment to the region in a speech here

First Lady Jill Biden looks at Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso during a speech at the Carondelet Palace

First Lady Jill Biden looks at Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso during a speech at the Carondelet Palace

First Lady Jill Biden hugs First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso after speaking at the Carondelet Palace

First Lady Jill Biden hugs First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso after speaking at the Carondelet Palace

She also urged countries to attend the Summit of the Americas in June, amid worries countries may boycott.

‘And in June, Joe and I are excited to invite leaders and their spouses to Los Angeles, California for the Summit of the Americans. At this summit our leaders have a very ambitious agenda, to come together on things like achieving an equitable and sustainable future,’ she said.

A boycott could deal a humiliating blow to the administration.

The event, which brings leaders of North, South, and Central America, as well as the Caribbean, is facing a boycott from some nations if the meeting excludes Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

The president of Mexico has said he won’t come and other nations are threatening to follow his lead. The empty seats would be an embarrassment to the Biden White House.

The United States is hosting the summit for the first time since its start in 1994, when Bill Clinton hosted the very first summit in Miami.  

The Biden administration has refused to address the crisis this far, simply saying invitations have not gone out yet.   

But Jill Biden can lend her soft diplomatic touch as the controversy brews and as many Latin American nations signal their frustration with her husband’s administration, believing to be low on President Biden’s priority list. 

And Ecuador rolled out the red carpet for Jill Biden on Thursday as she met with the country’s president and first lady at the Carondelet Palace.

President Guillermo Lasso and First Lady María de Lourdes Alcívar de Lasso put out the bells and whistles – a military band played, soldiers in ceremonial blue and white uniforms guarded the doors, and roses – which are a major export of Ecuador – decorated the courtyard.

Jill Biden wore a white dress with blue butterflies. 

She was greeted on a stage in the middle of the courtyard, where Ecuadorian and American flags made up the backdrop along with a row of ferns. On each side of the stage was a trellis filled with red, white, pink and yellow roses. 

Mrs. Alcívar de Lasso waited for her, giving her a hug. 

Photographers called for shots as the two women posed on a stage in the inner courtyard of the palace.

‘Can we go?’ Biden joked after a minute of camera shots.

First Lady Jill Biden hugs the First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso on the opening day of her Latin America tour

First Lady Jill Biden hugs the First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso on the opening day of her Latin America tour 

Ecuador rolled out the red carpet for Jill on Thursday as she met with the country's president and first lady at the Carondelet Palace

Ecuador rolled out the red carpet for Jill on Thursday as she met with the country’s president and first lady at the Carondelet Palace

U.S. first lady Jill Biden walks with Ecuador's first lady Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso at the Carondelet Palace

U.S. first lady Jill Biden walks with Ecuador’s first lady Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso at the Carondelet Palace 

First lady Jill Biden said she and Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso are friends already

First lady Jill Biden said she and Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso are friends already

First Lady Jill Biden and First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso visit a classroom at a child development center, a preschool for kids ages 1-3 from low income households in Quito

First Lady Jill Biden and First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso visit a classroom at a child development center, a preschool for kids ages 1-3 from low income households in Quito

First Lady Jill Biden and First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso play a game with the kids

First Lady Jill Biden and First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso play a game with the kids

With that, they walked upstairs to the residence, where Biden had coffee with the president and first lady.

At the meeting, Biden said they ‘talked about everything’ and ‘we are friends already.’

‘We talked about everything. We talked about education, the pandemic, people, families, how important it is to support the families of our country. And so we’re friends already,’ she told reporters afterward.

Later she and her Ecuadorian counterpart headed to the Centro De Desarrollo Infantil San Francisco de Quito, a child development center. There the two first ladies will talk childhood nutrition, a priority of the First Lady of Ecuador.

At the center, the two women joined the children in playing with a large circular cloth. They waved it in the air as a Spanish song played and then all ducked their heads under it when the song ended. 

They also joined the kids around a children’s table where they watched them enjoy a healthy fruit snack.  

Biden will later make a speech where she’s expected to touch on migration, a major issue for her husband’s administration.

Her speech will ‘demonstrate the growing strength of our bilateral relationship with Ecuador; present U.S. regional goals for the hemisphere in advance of the Summit of the Americas to be held in Los Angeles in June; and recognize the importance of the region,’ the East Wing said. ‘Interconnectedness is a key theme of the speech.’

Biden arrived in the capitol of Quito on Wednesday night.

She was greeted on a stage in the middle of the courtyard, where Ecuadorian and American flags made up the backdrop along with a row of ferns. On each side of the stage was a trellis filled with red, white, pink and yellow roses

She was greeted on a stage in the middle of the courtyard, where Ecuadorian and American flags made up the backdrop along with a row of ferns. On each side of the stage was a trellis filled with red, white, pink and yellow roses 

Photographers called for shots as the two women posed on a stage in the inner courtyard of the palace. 'Can we go?' Biden joked after a minute of camera shots

Photographers called for shots as the two women posed on a stage in the inner courtyard of the palace. ‘Can we go?’ Biden joked after a minute of camera shots

The first lady's six-day trip Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica comes ahead of May 23, when Title 42, a public health order that allowed thousands of migrants to be turned back at the border, expires

The first lady’s six-day trip Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica comes ahead of May 23, when Title 42, a public health order that allowed thousands of migrants to be turned back at the border, expires

First Lady Jill Biden and First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso visit a classroom at a child development center where the kids learned about healthy snacks

First Lady Jill Biden and First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso visit a classroom at a child development center where the kids learned about healthy snacks

First Lady Jill Biden and First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso sign a welcome poster that had greeted them at the child development center

First Lady Jill Biden and First Lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar de Lasso sign a welcome poster that had greeted them at the child development center

The first lady’s six-day trip Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica comes ahead of May 23, when Title 42, a public health order that allowed thousands of migrants to be turned back at the border, expires.

Many of those migrants are from Latin American countries. 

The number of migrants apprehended along the Southern Border rose to another record high in April, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Customs and Border Patrol stopped 234,088 migrants along the border last month – a 5.8 per cent increase from March.

Of those apprehended, around 96,908 were summarily expelled under Title 42.

Several states have sued the administration to stop Title 42 from being lifted. A judge issued a temporary order barring the removal but that could be removed as the issue works its way through the federal courts.  

The Biden administration has struggled to explain how it will deal the expected surge in migration. Even some Democrats have urged the White House to postpone lifting the order until a more detailed plan is in place.

Last month, Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas were in Panama City to meet with counterparts from more than 20 countries in the Western Hemisphere to discuss cooperation on migration. 

After her speech, Jill Biden will cap off her day with a visit to Escuela Oswaldo Guayasamín, a public school that is hosting a U.S.-supported accelerated learning program that helps Ecuadorian, Venezuelan, and Colombian teenagers – who were previously out of school – rejoin the formal school system.

This is Jill Biden’s second international trip this month after she visited Romania and Slovakia and made a surprise trip to Ukraine.

President Joe Biden gave her a ride on Marine One to Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday to see her off on her travels.

The President then hugged the first lady and blew her a kiss from the bottom of the stairs as she boarded the plane.

The first lady walks along the red carpet into her meeting with Ecuador's first lady at the grand Carondelet presidential palace

The first lady walks along the red carpet into her meeting with Ecuador’s first lady at the grand Carondelet presidential palace

Jill Biden hugs her husband Joe as she left for a six-day trip to Ecuador, Panama, and Costa Rica ahead of the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas

Jill Biden hugs her husband Joe as she left for a six-day trip to Ecuador, Panama, and Costa Rica ahead of the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas

The President blew a kiss for the first lady as she boarded the flight for her second international trip this month - after visiting Romania and Ukraine

The President blew a kiss for the first lady as she boarded the flight for her second international trip this month – after visiting Romania and Ukraine

Jill Biden poses at the airport with the first lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar - upon her arrival in Ecuador

Jill Biden poses at the airport with the first lady of Ecuador Maria de Lourdes Alcivar – upon her arrival in Ecuador

‘During her trip, the First Lady will emphasize the importance of the U.S. partnership with these three nations as well as their commitment to democracy,’ her office said. 

Much of Jill Biden’s visit will be focused on interests close to her heart: education and children.

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