LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) – Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador confirmed Monday that he will skip the US summit in Los Angeles to call on governments to work together to address growing migration across the hemisphere. A setback for its efforts.
López Obrador was leading a group of mostly left-wing leaders pushing the US to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to the gathering on American soil for the first time since 1994. Other leaders, including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – the three main drivers of migration to the US – have indicated they will also stay away.
“The summit cannot take place if all countries are not invited,” López Obrador said on Monday, indicating that Mexico would be represented by his foreign affairs secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, “or there could be one, But it has to continue with all the politics of interventionism. ,
As with so many no-shows, critics say the incident turns into an embarrassment for President Joe Biden, who has struggled to re-establish American leadership in a region where America’s mistrust runs deep and China has been made the major infiltrator over the past two decades. US foreign policy has been dominated by wars in the Middle East and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Biden administration said it would not include autocratic governments that contested and rigged elections, pointing to a declaration from a 2001 summit in Quebec City, when governments in the region were able to prevent any future gatherings from breaking the democratic system. Was determined to stop the government.
watch: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre news briefing
However, many critics, including some progressive Democrats, have criticized the administration for blocking Communist Cuba under pressure from exiles in the swing state of Florida, which had attended two previous summits.
Adding to the spirit of last-minute reform, Biden has reversed several Trump-era policies since taking office, tightening the decades-old US embargo on Cuba. He also sent a senior-level delegation to meet with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for possible relief from severe oil sanctions in exchange for a commitment to resume talks with the US-backed opposition.
“The real question is why hasn’t the Biden administration done its homework,” said former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda, who now teaches at New York University.
While the Biden administration insists that the president in Los Angeles will outline its vision for a “sustainable, resilient and equitable future” for the hemisphere, Castaneda said it is clear from the last-minute wrangling over the guest list that Latin America Not a priority for the US President.
“This ambitious agenda, apart from a series of bromides, no one knows exactly what it is,” he said.
The US summit was initiated by President Bill Clinton as an attempt to increase support for a free trade agreement stretching from Alaska to Argentina.
But that goal was abandoned more than 15 years ago amid a rise in left-wing politics in the region. As China’s influence expands, most nations are beginning to expect – and need – less from Washington.
As a result, the premier forum for regional cooperation has sometimes turned into a forum for airing historical grievances, such as the 2009 summit in Trinidad and Tobago by the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez of Eduardo Galleno to President Barack Obama. A copy of the classic was given. Tract, “The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent.”
America’s opening to former Cold War adversary Cuba, which was sealed with Obama’s handshake with Raul Castro at a 2015 summit in Panama, eased some ideological tensions.
“This is a huge opportunity,” Ben Rhodes, who led the Cuban thaw as deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration, recently said in his “Pod Save the World” podcast. “We’re isolating ourselves by taking that step, because you’ve got Mexico, you have Caribbean countries saying they’re not going to come – which is only going to make Cuba stronger than us.”
To increase the turnout, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have worked on the phone in recent days, speaking with leaders from Argentina and Honduras, both of whom initially expressed support for a boycott of Mexico.
The office of Argentine President Alberto Fernández indicated on Monday that he would attend. Chilean President Gabriel Boric and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did the same during a joint news conference in Ottawa.
Former Sen. Christopher Dodd visited the region as a special adviser to the summit, persuading Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who was a staunch ally of President Donald Trump and not once spoken to Biden, so that his Attendance can be confirmed.
Trump didn’t even bother to attend the final summit in Peru in 2018 and many predicted the regional gathering had no future.
Read more: White House announces easing of dispatch, flight rules over Cuba
In response to Trump’s backlash, only 17 of the region’s 35 heads of state attended. Few saw value in bringing together photo op leaders from as diverse as aid-dependent Haiti, industrial powerhouses Mexico and Brazil and violence-ridden Central America – each with its own unique challenges and bilateral agenda with Washington.
“Unless we speak with one voice, no one will listen to us,” said former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos. “With the hoarseness of voices, it is far more difficult to find your place in the world.”
To the surprise of many, the US offered to host the summit in early 2019. At the time, the Trump administration was enjoying a leadership renaissance in Latin America, though mostly between like-minded conservative governments around the narrow issue of restoring democracy in Venezuela.
But that goodwill was exposed when Trump floated the idea of invading Venezuela to remove Nicolas Maduro – a threat recalling the worst excesses of the Cold War. Then the pandemic took a devastating human and economic toll on a region that was responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, despite making up only 8 percent of the population. The politics of the region was elevated.
The election of Biden, who was Obama’s points man for Latin America and had decades of experience in the field from his time on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, set hopes for a re-launch.
But as popular anger spread during the pandemic, the Biden administration was slow to match the vaccine diplomacy of Russia and China, although it eventually delivered 70 million doses to the hemisphere. Biden also maintained Trump-era restrictions on migration, reinforcing the view that it was neglecting its own neighbors.
Since then, Biden’s hallmark policy in the region – a $4 billion aid package to attack the root causes of migration to Central America – has been made with no apparent effort in Congress to revive it. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also diverted attention from the region, with some experts saying rising interest rates in the US could come back to bite Biden if it sparks a stampede of capital outflows and loan defaults in emerging markets.
Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington; Daniel Politi in Buenos Aires, Argentina; David Biller in Rio de Janeiro and Gonzalo Solano in Quito, Ecuador contributed to this report. Goodman reported from Miami.