Friday, May 27, 2022

Mexico’s President threatens not to attend US summit

MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) — Mexico’s president said Tuesday he will not attend next month’s US summit in Los Angeles if the Biden administration excludes Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua — some across the region. Adding his voice to the growing warning of boycott by the leaders.

President Andres Manuel López Obrador has been saying in recent weeks that the US government should not kick anyone out of the summit, but he has not previously threatened to stay home.

“If they exclude, if not everyone is invited, a representative of the Mexican government is going to go, but I will not go,” López Obrador said during his daily news conference on a visit to Cuba. He said his foreign affairs secretary Marcelo Ebrard would go.

The Mexican president’s absence will be a setback for the summit, which is expected to largely tackle the issue of migration at the US-Mexico border. The Biden administration has worked for months to build regional consensus. Cabinet members are visiting the region and urging allies to strengthen immigration controls and expand their asylum programs.

“Our goal is … to sign a Regional Declaration on Migration and Conservation in Los Angeles in June, when the United States hosts the summit,” President Joe Biden said in March, when he visited Colombia in White. President Ivan Duque hosted. House.

He called for “a new framework for how nations across the region can collectively manage migration across the Western Hemisphere.”

Such cooperation will be important as the US grapples with high numbers of migrants arriving at its southern border and prepares to lift restrictions on asylum applications later this month, attracting even more migrants to the north. expected to do.

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But leaders of Caribbean nations have also discussed a mass boycott of the summit if nations are excluded and criticized US plans to invite Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The US recognizes him as the legitimate president of that country, but many Caribbean countries do not.

“We do not believe in a policy of exclusion of Cuba and Venezuela. We do not recognize Juan Guaidó as the President of Venezuela. Under those circumstances, Antigua and Barbuda would not participate,” said that country’s prime minister, Gaston Brown.

He said a meeting of Caribbean foreign ministers in Belize in March to boycott the summit had been reached if countries were excluded, “but I’m not sure there will be a consensus.”

St. Vincent’s Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves had a similar view: “If Guaidó goes to represent Venezuela, if the Americans do it will be a foolish act,” Gonsalves said in a weekend radio program, St. Vincent not involved. Maybe if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is ousted.

Cuba is an active member of the Caribbean Community of Nations and the communist-ruled island has provided thousands of free scholarships to Caribbean medical, engineering and other students since the mid-70s. Successive Venezuelan governments have aided Caribbean countries with prefabricated housing and cheap oil.

A senior Biden administration official said the blow was largely in response to a strong diplomatic push from Cuba – a perennial touchstone for the Latin American Left – and that the US expects some leaders to respond to threats to skip the summit. would follow.

Behind the scenes, several Caribbean leaders indicated they plan to attend, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private diplomatic communications.

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The official said the administration expects both López Obrador and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro to participate.

Cuba was excluded from the first six hemisphere summits held from 1994 to 2012. But Cuba was invited to a 2015 gathering in Panama if it was excluded, following growing threats of boycotts by left-wing Latin American leaders – as well as a thaw in relations. The US, led by President Barack Obama, met Cuban leader Raul Castro at the event.

Cuba was also invited to the last summit in Peru in 2018, but Castro sent his foreign minister instead because Maduro of Venezuela was not invited. US President Donald Trump also did not attend.

Argentina, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, also issued an appeal this month to refrain from ousting any government.

In a tweet, it called the summit a “great opportunity to create a space for encounters in which all countries of the hemisphere participate” and called on organizers to “avoid exclusions” that seek to listen and listen to all voices of the hemisphere in dialogue. hinder hearing. ,

López Obrador left open the possibility that if the Biden administration invites all countries he could attend. He said the previous summit had not singled out any country and attributed the current situation to backing a “hostile policy” on political minorities in the US.

“There is still time before the convention and we can reach an agreement, but we all have to unite, seek America’s unity,” he said.

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Goodman reported from Cleveland, Ohio. Associated Press writer Burt Wilkinson contributed to this story from Georgetown, Guyana.

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