Mexican president boycotts summit over US exclusion of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela

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Leftist Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announcement Monday that he is skipping the Summit of the Americas, continuing his threatens to boycott the upcoming meeting if the White House refused to invite officials from all nations in the Western Hemisphere.

The Biden administration’s decision to bar the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela from this week’s rally in Los Angeles was made final on Sunday.

Anonymous sources familiar with the deliberations between officials in Washington and their counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean, including those in Mexico, said US President Joe Biden’s long-awaited decision was “based on concerns about the lack of of democracy and respect for human rights in the three countries”. “, Bloomberg reported.

However, the White House would be considering a role for Juan Guaidó — an unelected and unpopular right-wing opposition figure who took part in a failed, Trump-backed attempt to unseat Venezuelan President-elect Nicolás Maduro in 2019 — at a virtual side event.

Washington does not officially recognize Maduro as the rightful leader of the South American country even though he was re-elected last year in a contest that US legal observers said was fair. Instead, the United States recognizes Guaidó as interim president and Biden previously invited the Venezuelan coup leader to his administration’s so-called Democracy Summit in December.

In addition to Maduro, the United States excludes Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, whose 2021 Biden re-election called fraudulent, from the Summit of the Americas.

According to US officials, the Biden administration has decided not to invite a lower-ranking government official to attend in place of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who said last month that he would not travel to Los Angeles even if invited due to the White House’s “brutal” pressure campaign to make this week’s event non-inclusive.

Cuba participated in the 2015 meeting in Panama and the 2018 meeting in Peru, which former US President Donald Trump skipped.

Despite pleas from Democratic lawmakers and Biden’s own campaign pledge To reverse Trump’s ‘failed’ approach to Cuba – which included implementing more than 200 punitive policies following Obama-era normalization efforts – the White House imposed additional sanctions in recent months, intensifying Washington’s 60-year embargo on the Caribbean island.

Among other hemisphere officials, far-right presidents Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Iván Duque of Colombia are expected to attend the Summit of the Americas, which begins Monday and ends June 10.

Like López Obrador, however, the socialist president of Honduras, Xiomara Castro, will not make the trip to Los Angeles. His decision to stay home was announcement Sunday.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina are expected to fill in, but the absence of several Central American presidents is likely to complicate Biden’s agenda, which would have understand crafting an agreement to reduce and manage undocumented migration as well as discussions on regional economic, health and food security issues exacerbated by rising inequality and the climate crisis caused by fossil fuels.

Aileen Teague, Nonresident Fellow at Quincy Institute, argued last month that “the Biden administration will lose political capital if it allows its growing tendency to divide the world into ‘democratic’ friends and ‘authoritarian’ states to dictate the list of invitations to a forum far larger than the goals policies professed by Washington”.

The declared focus of the Summit of the Americas is to commit to “concrete actions that significantly improve the response and resilience to the pandemic, promote a green and equitable recovery, bold, strong and inclusive democracies, and address the root causes of the irregular migration”.

John Kirk, Emeritus Professor of Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University in Canada, argued last week that “for a summit that aims to ‘significantly improve the response to the pandemic,’ it seems strange to exclude Cuba – the only Latin American country to have developed its own Covid vaccinesto have sent thousands of health professionals abroad to help people during the pandemic and to have fully vaccinated 96% of the population. (Latest figures show less than 70 Covid cases per day).”

“In terms of their role abroad, some 5,000 Cuban specialists have worked in 42 countries on anti-Covid missions,” Kirk continued. “As Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit explained: ‘Here in the Caribbean, if support for Cuban doctors were to be withdrawn from the health system of all Caricom member countries [the Caribbean Community]these would crumble.'”

“Cuba has one of the best public health systems in the Americas,” Kirk wrote. “Given these successes and his international medical support program, why not at least listen to his successful approach to the pandemic?”

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