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Biden’s Americas summit is drawing jeers and threats of boycott
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Mexico threatens to boycott Americas summit unless Biden allows Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to attend
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Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday he would not attend the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas next month…
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Threats of boycott cast a shadow over Biden’s Summit of the Americas

By Nora Gámez Torres and Jacqueline Charles

The White House has not made a final decision on which countries will be invited to the forthcoming Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, following warnings by Mexico’s president that he would skip the regional gathering next month if the authoritarian leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua are excluded.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is not the only one threatening to boycott the largest gathering of leaders from the Western Hemisphere, which the U.S. will host for the first time since the inaugural Summit in Miami in 1994.

Reuters reported that President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil is planning to skip it. The president of Bolivia said he would also not attend “if the exclusion of sister nations persists.” And leaders of the 15-member Caribbean-Community block known as CARICOM plan to meet Thursday to decide whether they will boycott the event after agreeing in March to do so if Cuba and Venezuela were excluded, a source told the Miami Herald.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday she could not say whether representatives from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua will be invited because “a final decision has not been made yet,” leaving the matter still in the air.

“We haven’t made a decision about who will be invited, and no invitations have been issued yet,” she said in a press briefing.

Previously, U.S. officials have said that the Summit will welcome representatives of democratically elected governments. Brian Nichols, assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, told reporters last week that those three countries were “unlikely” to be invited.

But Mexico’s president took issue with the exclusion and asked president Joe Biden to reconsider it during a phone call last month.

Following a visit to Cuba on Sunday in which he praised Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel and met with Raúl Castro, López Obrador doubled down Tuesday on his demand, threatening to skip the event.

“If they’re excluded, if not all (countries) are invited, a representative from the Mexican government would go, but I wouldn’t,” Lopez Obrador said in a press conference on Tuesday.

He made clear his comments should be read as a protest message, adding that he wanted to see “changes” in U.S. policies for Latin America.

The Summit is seen as an opportunity for the Biden administration to assert U.S. leadership and dispel criticisms that it does not prioritize the region. And there was hope among experts that it would help set a clear policy agenda addressing the needs of countries that have been among the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the possible absence of leaders of several nations, including some heavyweights like Mexico and Brazil, adds to the Biden administration’s struggles to generate enthusiasm about the gathering.

The event had already received criticism for an overly focused agenda on what some countries perceived as mainly a domestic U.S. issue — immigration — and the lack of a trade component, despite some late efforts reported by Bloomberg to include some economic topics in the discussion.

A Mexican president’s absence from a summit to be hosted in Los Angeles and centered around immigration, in particular, has set off alarms. The U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, was quickly dispatched Tuesday to meet López Obrador.

The meeting, however, did not move the Mexican president. In his daily press conference, known as La Mañanera, López-Obrador said he reiterated his position to Salazar.

“There is still time to address this matter, but it had to be put on the table,” he said.

With only a few weeks left before the summit begins on June 6, the controversy over the invitations is shifting the narrative away from the event’s proposed theme of “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” to expose deep regional divisions about what the summit stands for and resentment about some U.S. policies.

“The Summit of the Americas is in danger,” Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda ambassador to the U.S., said during a Florida International University event in which he suggested that Caribbean nations may decide to boycott if Cuba is not invited. Sanders also said that the “insistence” by some members of Congress on including Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s opposition leader, “will also result in a number of countries not attending.” Guaidó is recognized by the U.S. and other governments as the country’s interim president.

The Biden administration is the host government, Sanders said. “Now does that give the United States the right to decide who in the Western Hemisphere should or should not be invited?” he asked. “This is a critical issue and it is one that we will have to address or that summit is in danger.”

Whether it is organizational issues or diplomatic deliberations, the delay in issuing the invitations created an opportunity for Cuba to rally support for the demand that all governments be invited, regardless of how they stay in power.

The summit’s aim is to gather the leaders of the countries that are members of the Organization of American States. In 2001, the organization adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which states that “the unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order” is “an insurmountable obstacle” to participation in the Summit of the Americas process.

“More to the point, carrying water for the brutal Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela dictatorships deep into the 21st century is just not something that instills confidence in a future-oriented, pragmatic approach to economic competitiveness and social development,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas in Washington, D.C.

“It seems the hemisphere has taken a giant step back since the first Summit of the Americas in Miami in 1994,” he added.

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Dive Deeper:
Biden’s Americas summit is drawing jeers and threats of boycott
Major Latin American leaders may skip next month’s Summit of the Americas amid criticism of who’s been left out and…
Mexico threatens to boycott Americas summit unless Biden allows Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to attend
Andrés Manuel López Obrador says he’s out if the US excludes certain nations
Mexico president threatens to skip Americas Summit
Mexico’s president says he won't attend next month’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles if the Biden administration excludes…
Bolivia's Arce warns may not attend Summit of the Americas
Bolivia’s President Luis Arce says he may not go to the Summit of the Americas if some countries are not…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Mexico and Brazil leaders suggest they may snub Biden's Americas summit
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday he would not attend the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas next month…
Bolivian president will not attend U.S. summit if other nations excluded
Bolivian President Luis Arce has announced that he will not participate in next month's Summit of the Americas in the…
Get all your news in one place