WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Cuba, Nicaragua and the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are likely to be excluded from the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas to be held in June in Los Angeles, a senior State Department official said on Wednesday. .
“It’s unlikely they’ll be there,” US Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols told a small group of reporters, saying the regional leaders’ summit would focus on democracies in the Western Hemisphere.
The comments marked the clearest message that these three governments, all on bad terms with Washington, will be snubbed once the White House releases the list of invitations. That announcement, Nichols added, would come soon.
On Monday, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said the United States had decided to exclude Cuba from summit preparations, a setback for relations just days after the longtime rivals held their first talks. high level in four years.
Political cartoons about world leaders
Nichols also said Maduro’s government was unlikely to play a role at the 9th Summit of the Americas, but said it would be up to the White House to decide whether or not to invite Venezuelan opposition leader Juan. Guaido instead.
Washington and dozens of other countries have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader and shunned Maduro, a socialist, after accusing him of rigging his re-election in 2018.
Nichols expressed his “deep respect” for Guaido’s “interim government” and said Venezuela’s political situation would be addressed at the summit. Despite US sanctions, Maduro has retained power, backed by the military and Russia, China and Cuba.
Relations have remained strained with Cuba’s communist government led by US President Joe Biden, whose administration has alleged human rights abuses against those who demonstrated at widespread rallies on the island last July.
The United States has also been at odds with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla, who won a fourth consecutive term in November after jailing political rivals and cracking down on critical media.
“It’s clear that Nicaragua has ceased any semblance of democracy as a result of the mock election,” Nichols said.
Nichols offered no direct answer when asked if El Salvador could also be excluded, but said “we are very concerned about the erosion of democratic institutions.”
Irregular migration, a big challenge for Biden on the US-Mexico border, will be high on the agenda, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will feature in the discussions. Leaders are expected to talk about supply chain issues, rising energy costs and rising commodity and fertilizer prices, Nichols said.
Cuba participated in the 2015 summit in Panama and the 2018 rally in Peru. Maduro was ousted in 2018 due to regional censorship of his Democratic record.
Nichols said at least 27 countries are expected to attend the June 6-10 summit, which has been held every three or four years since 1994.
Regional heads of state and government normally attend, and Nichols signaled that it was expected this time, saying that while invitations had not yet been sent out, he had seen a strong desire to attend.
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)
Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.