Biden’s ban of three countries from regional summit backfires
Biden’s ban of three countries from regional summit backfires
U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to ban Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela from attending the 2022 Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles has backfired as more Latin American and Caribbean leaders are snubbing the summit in protest at Washington’s exclusion of some members. 

TEHRAN (Iran News) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to ban Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela from attending the 2022 Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles has backfired as more Latin American and Caribbean leaders are snubbing the summit in protest at Washington’s exclusion of some members.

The U.S is hosting the Summit of the Americas for the first time since 1994. The international event is traditionally held every three or four years.

The insistence by the administration of President Biden that the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are not allowed to participate in the summit has been seen by many regional governments as a sign of U.S. imperialism.

Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela have one thing in common. They are independent, sovereign countries who oppose U.S. policy in the region arguing that Washington’s interference in their domestic affairs brings insecurity and economic hardship.

The boycott of other regional leaders will come as a blow to President Biden who opened the event on Wednesday.

On the agenda are important regional issues that need to be addressed such as the migration crisis, trade and economic insecurity, pandemic recovery efforts, climate change, and political polarization.

But the backlash of Latin American and Caribbean States (irrespective of their political view) against Washington’s policy of exclusion.

Biden’s hopes of trying to portray his administration as a trustworthy and influential U.S. regional player (unlike his predecessor who damaged ties and wanted to build a wall on the Mexican border) has effectively been dashed.

In response to the expulsion of some Latin American nations, the most notable absentee is Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who announced he is skipping the Summit of the Americas in the U.S. because of the White House’s failure to invite countries it claims are “undemocratic.”

For weeks, Lopez Obrador had threatened he would not participate unless all other countries are allowed to participate. During that time the White House had been in regular contact with the Mexican leader urging him to travel to Los Angeles.
According to reports, White House officials were finally convinced that he would be in attendance.

The snub by the United States’ southern neighbor has been viewed as an embarrassment for the Biden administration.

Lopez Obrador says “I am not going to the summit because they are not inviting all the countries of America and I think it is necessary to change the policy that has been imposed on us for centuries: exclusion,”

The Mexican leader also warned, “you cannot have a Summit of the Americas if you do not have all the countries of the Americas attending, or you can have it, but we see that as the old policy of interventionism, lack of respect for nations and their people.”

Lopez Obrador’s absence has raised questions about the significance of summit which is aimed at the migration crisis (among other issues) at the U.S. southern border, a key priority for Biden, that has now come as a major blow for the United States.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized the Mexican president in a statement, saying his “decision… would hurt U.S.-Mexico relations.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, on the other hand, has praised the “courage and clarity” of his Mexican counterpart for choosing to boycott the event.

Maduro says Washington’s move to prevent his county along with Cuba and Nicaragua from participating in the international summit “was an act of discrimination” warning that the White House “has ensured the summit would fail.”

Ahead of the summit, the governments of all three countries that have been banned said they would no longer travel to Los Angeles even if an invitation was extended to them by Washington.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric says it was a “mistake” by the Biden administration.

Speaking to reporters, Boric said the U.S. move was “reinforcing the position that these other countries take in their own countries. We think it’s an error, a mistake, and we’re going to say that during the summit.”

Observers say the boycott of other leaders as well could diminish the relevance of the summit in Los Angeles, where the U.S. aims to address regional issues.

But to bolster turnout, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have also been working the phones in recent days, talking to the leaders of Argentina and Honduras, both of whom had expressed support for Mexico’s proposed boycott.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to say whether or not he disagreed with the exclusion but said Canada looked forward to participating fully in the summit.

“It’s extremely important that we have an opportunity to engage with our fellow hemispheric partners, some like-minded, some less like-minded, but talking about important issues that our people have in common,” he said.

Critics have criticized Trudeau for not making his views publicly on the U.S. move to hand pick which countries are allowed to attend an international summit.

Cuba, which attended the previous two summits, has slammed its exclusion, along with Nicaragua and Venezuela, from the U.S. hosted Summit of the Americas.

The government in Havana said “there is not a single reason that justifies the anti-democratic and arbitrary exclusion of any country in the hemisphere from that continental meeting,”

It added the measure is “anti-democratic and arbitrary,” and shows that the U.S. “conceived and uses this high-level dialogue mechanism as an instrument of its hegemonic system in the hemisphere.”

Havana’s added “one cannot speak of ‘The Americas’ without covering all the countries that make up the hemisphere” and the Biden administration “refused to heed the just demands of numerous governments” to change its position regarding Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

A Foreign Ministry statement published by Cuba also condemned the U.S. for “abusing the privilege granted by its status as host country,” a decision it has described as “discriminatory and unacceptable. Cuba also said the United States underestimated support in the region for the island nation.

Experts say the White House took into consideration the large Cuban community in Miami, which favored Trump’s harsh policies toward Havana and Caracas, viewing the community as an important voting bloc in Florida in November elections that will decide control of the U.S. Congress.

Observes say the community in question fled Cuba decades ago following the revolution in the country and are loyalists to the former regime in Cuba.

Even some Democrats have criticized the White House for bowing to pressure from exiles in the swing state of Florida and barring Cuba, which attended the last two summits.

Countries in the Caribbean have condemned the move with some saying they will boycott the event.

Guatemala’s leader Alejandro Giammattei has pulled out of the summit.

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou said he will not be in attendance.

At the last moment, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who leads Latin America’s most populous country, confirmed he will attend, after flirting with the idea of also staying away for weeks.

There is speculation that President Bolsonaro finally made his decision after the White House arranged a bilateral meeting with Biden.

Reports suggest the U.S. President and Vice President Kamala Harris, have been busy personally calling regional leaders urging them to attend.

Since last year, the Biden White House has been working on organizing the summit. But it appears the summit will not bring any results to the many challenges facing the region.

Experts say the U.S. is the problem and Latin American countries in particular need to have a real meeting among themselves, without the presence of Washington to solve their problems.

The U.S. sees Latin America and the Caribbean as its backyard but it did not anticipate the boycott and the backlash. Even the countries attending have expressed opposition to U.S. policy.