Mexico skips Summit of the Americas; US downplays spat


Los Angeles
As the summit kicked off, another thousands-strong migrant caravan departed southern Mexico for the US border, with some chanting "Freedom!" and "We want visas!" (AFP)

Mexico skipped a regional meeting in Los Angeles to protest the United States' exclusion of three regional countries, putting a damper on President Joe Biden's ambitions to reengage the United States with Latin America, particularly on crucial issues like migration.

What was supposed to be a week-long display of collaboration beginning on Monday is more likely to become a display of division, reflecting the United States' dwindling power in a region where China's economic and political influence is expanding.

A senior White House source said that Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela would not be invited to the Summit of the Americas, citing "reservations regarding the lack of democratic space and the human rights situations."

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador stated that he would not attend in response.

Lopez Obrador proclaimed, "You cannot have a Summit of the Americas if you do not have all the countries of the Americas attending," while criticizing US "hegemony" and "lack of respect for nations."

Even though Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard will represent Mexico, the absence of the leftist populist leader will limit the effect of a meeting where US-Mexico relations are at the center of crucial immigration and trade issues.

US downplays dispute

The White House minimized the dispute, stating that Biden was merely standing up for his beliefs and that there was no animosity between the neighbors.

"We do not believe that dictators should be invited," said Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

She added that Lopez Obrador was scheduled to visit Washington in July and that Biden had not been caught off guard. Before the Mexican president's declaration, "He was aware."

The communist Cuban government released a statement in Havana describing its exclusion as "anti-democratic and arbitrary."

Jean-Pierre stated that Biden, who goes to Los Angeles on Wednesday, will announce multiple "deliverables" at the meeting.

Regional economic and health issues will be prioritized on Wednesday, followed by climate change on Thursday.

Friday will be devoted to the influx of immigration into the United States, which is a big worry for American voters and an area in which Biden's Republican opponents view him as vulnerable in the 2018 midterm elections.

As the conference began, another caravan of thousands of migrants left southern Mexico for the US border, yelling "Freedom!" and "We want visas!" as they began their 2,000-mile journey.

Argentina and Brazil appear

Ned Price, a spokesperson for the United States Department of State, asserted that Lopez Obrador's absence would not derail the summit, describing Mexico as "an important hemispheric player."

The Biden administration also boasts that it has secured the involvement of other critical regional figures, such as the left-leaning Alberto Fernandez of Argentina and the far-right Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.

On Monday, President of Uruguay Luis Lacalle Pou tweeted that he could not attend after catching Covid-19.

The United States has not hosted the Summit of the Americas since the original conference in 1994 in Miami, where then-president Bill Clinton advocated the construction of a trade area covering the whole continent except communist Cuba.

The United States has now developed a negative view of free trade, with Vice President Joe Biden following in his predecessor, Donald Trump, who claimed that such pacts harm American workers.

Trump advocated a tough stance toward Venezuela and Cuba, and he skipped the 2018 Summit of the Americas in Peru.

Publish : 2022-06-07 08:15:00

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