Mexican president officially quits US-led summit
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has confirmed he will not attend the US-led Summit of the Americas, opting to skip the event due to its refusal to host the leaders of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. He announced on Monday that he would send Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard in his place.
“I’m not going to the Summit because not all countries are invited,” AMLO said in a press conference on Monday. He had warned Washington for weeks that he would pull out if all countries in the region were not permitted to attend, and plans to visit communities damaged by a recent hurricane instead.
The Mexican leader didn’t blame US President Joe Biden alone for Washington’s decision not to invite the three left-leaning nations, calling the American leader “a good man” and acknowledging the “many pressures from Republicans and especially from some leaders in the Republican Party and also in the Democratic Party that have something to do with the Cuban community in Florida and in the United States.”
AMLO is not the only leader to decline Washington’s invitation over ideological differences. Honduras President Xiomara Castro declared on Saturday that she would stay home and send Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina to Los Angeles instead.
The Honduran snub hints at the years of diplomatic strain between Tegucigalpa and Washington. While US Vice President Kamala Harris was the guest of honor at Castro’s inauguration, the Obama administration – specifically Hillary Clinton’s State Department – backed the 2009 coup in Honduras which took out Castro’s husband, Manuel Zelaya, kicking off years of overt human rights abuses while Biden looked the other way as vice president along with the rest of Obama’s cabinet. Following Castro’s inauguration, the US extradited her predecessor, its former ally Juan Orlando Hernandez, to face trial on federal drug charges, presumably turning the page on the relationship between the two countries.
Bolivian President Luis Arce warned last month that he would not attend the Summit of the Americas either unless the “exclusion of brotherly peoples” in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba was ended. Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez had also decried the US snub of the three leftist countries and planned to skip the summit until he reportedly received a personal phone call from Biden.
Even Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the antithesis of a leftist leader, had publicly stated he would not be at the summit until the White House allegedly promised a bilateral meeting with the US president.
And while Chilean President Gabriel Boric has not announced plans to skip the summit, he described the decision to exclude Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as an “error” and a “mistake” on Monday, arguing that by leaving them out, the US was “actually then reinforcing the position that these other countries take in their own countries.”
The Summit of the Americas begins on Monday in Los Angeles. An anonymous official confirmed to Reuters that the Biden administration had made a final decision to exclude Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. The three nations were designated by the Trump administration’s national security adviser John Bolton as the “troika of terror” in an apparent effort to revive Washington’s allies’ enthusiasm for leveling muscular sanctions against its socialist neighbors.