Summit of the Americas starts
(June 6, 2022)
The U.S. Biden administration finally confirmed that Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were not invited to the ninth Summit of the Americas, which starts in Los Angeles today. Officials said the exclusion is a response to the countries’ authoritarian governments and concerns about human rights.
Biden administration officials had floated the idea of inviting a low-level official from Cuba’s foreign affairs ministry, but ultimately decided against it, reports the Miami Herald.
The exclusion has been a flashpoint with other governments in the region, notably Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who will skip the meeting in protest. Honduran President Xiomara Castro and Bolivian President Luis Arce are also not expected to attend.
Caribbean countries demanded that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, recognized as the country’s interim president by the U.S., be excluded. Instead, he is likely to have a video call with Biden on the sidelines, reports the Miami Herald.
The guest-list fight has overshadowed the issues of substance the Biden administration hopes to discuss at the meeting: migration and trade. (See last Thursday’s post.) And raised significant criticisms even from allies who question the administration’s decision to exclude Cuba, which attended the last two summits, reports the Associated Press. “The real question is why the Biden administration didn’t do its homework,” said Jorge Castañeda, a former Mexican foreign minister who now teaches at New York University.
It’s the first time the U.S. has hosted the meeting since the inaugural summit in 1994 and many of those involved with the initial effort are wondering what happened to the spirit of collaboration, and why division and acrimony have come to overshadow the joint effort, reports the Los Angeles Times. Others are questioning the utility of this type of summit in general.
“The diminishing influence of the United States in Latin America is a byproduct of toxic polarization” both in the U.S. and to the south, said Manuel Orozco, an expert at the Inter-American Dialogue think tank.
Tropical Storm Alex became the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which started last week. It killed at least three people in Cuba this weekend. (New York Times)