Crisis-Ridden Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California | Margaret Villamizar
On Monday, June 6 the week-long Ninth Summit of the Americas opened in Los Angeles, California.
According to the Secretariat of the OAS which organizes them, “The Summits of the Americas are institutionalized gatherings of the heads of state and government of the Western Hemisphere where leaders discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional level to address continuing and new challenges faced in the Americas.”
Biden is expected to address topics such as migration, democracy, pandemic relief and possibly climate change at the event. It is reported that he hoped to use the occasion to repair relations with Latin America and the Caribbean damaged during the Trump administration, reassert U.S. influence in the region and counter China’s growing presence. However, by sticking to his unilateral decision to exclude Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua he has organized nothing short of a debacle for himself and his administration.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed on Monday, the opening day, that he would not be attending, following confirmation by the U.S. that it was sticking to its intention to exclude the three countries. He said there could be no Summit of the Americas if all countries of the American continent did not participate, adding that the policy imposed for centuries in the Americas of exclusion, the desire to dominate and not respecting the sovereignty of countries needed to change.
Regarding the anti-Cuba mafia in Florida and others he said were influencing Biden, López Obrador said, “They say human rights are violated in Cuba, in Guatemala, or wherever. So a blockade on a people by a great power isn’t a flagrant violation of human rights? That’s why it’s a No to the summit.”
Other heads of state or government who have announced they are not attending for the same reason include Presidents Luis Arce of Bolivia and Xiomara Castro of Honduras and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Guatemala’s president Alejandro Giammattei and El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele will not be in attendance either due to their own differences with the U.S. Both have sent word, as did Honduras and Mexico that their countries’ delegations will be led by their respective foreign ministers.
Other leaders have accepted the invitation to attend but only after making clear their opposition to the host country deciding who can and cannot participate, with some saying they intend to raise the matter at the Summit. Prominent among these is President Alberto Fernández of Argentina, the current president of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) who is expected to speak to the issue in his intervention. Chilean president Gabriel Boric, who is also attending, has said Washington’s policy is a mistake, and has historically “not produced results.” He also said the exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua would be one of the topics of discussion at the meeting.
President Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba denounced the U.S. for “exerting brutal pressure to demobilize the just and firm demand of the majority of countries in the region that the Summit be inclusive.”
The 15 members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are reported to have been among those subjected to particularly intense pressure after CARICOM announced early on that its members would boycott the Summit if any countries were excluded, or if Juan Guaidó, the bogus pretender to the presidency of Venezuela who still claims to lead a parallel government in opposition to Venezuela’s elected government, would be in attendance. It has been reported that his “representatives” are expected to attend. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro belatedly confirmed his attendance only after being “persuaded” by an emissary of the White House.
Regarding Biden’s exclusion of the three countries, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clearly showed what his claim to stand for inclusion is worth when he remained silent on the exclusion of the three countries, saying it was up to the host to decide who to invite.
Some of the countries “in the Western Hemisphere are ‘less like-minded’ than others, he said, but they all share a number of urgent issues, such as migration pressures, climate change and recovering fully from the COVID-19 pandemic,” CP reported. Showing the kind of sovereignty Canada supports, Trudeau and Defence Minister Anita Anand are, en route to the Summit, meeting with NORAD commanders at its headquarters in Colorado. In NORAD, Canada’s Armed Forces are under the command of the U.S. Armed Forces and their Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, and the Minister of the Environment, Steven Guilbeault, are also in tow to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, CP reports.
President Maduro of Venezuela said the U.S. itself had doomed its meeting to failure, and thanked the countries, reported to number at least 25 of the total 35 countries of the Americas, that had the courage to protest in one way or another against the exclusion of his country and of Cuba and Nicaragua. Several weeks ago Nicaragua’s president Daniel Ortega said he had no interest in attending the Summit, that it was an event used by the U.S. merely to attack other countries of the region.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre answered a question raised by a journalist on whether the boycotts would diminish the summit, saying the U.S. “remained the most powerful force in driving hemispheric actions to address core challenges facing the people of the Americas — inequality, health, climate and food security.” Apparently impervious to the irony of her statement, she said Biden was sticking to his principles by not inviting “dictators.” Besides the role the U.S. president himself plays when he dictates who can and cannot attend the Summit, the Summit welcomes the likes of Haiti’s foreign-imposed ruler Ariel Henry and Colombia’s Ivan Duque, both of whom preside over notorious death squad “democracies” installed under U.S. auspices.
Sacha Llorenti, Executive Secretary of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America — Peoples’ Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) said in a statement: “We think that the Summit of the Americas has already failed, … the United States has neither the right nor the authority to exclude any country, … its intention is not only to exclude but to divide. Those who are not going are staying away in protest. And many of those who are going will be protesting there.
“The U.S. government is not interested in human rights, democracy or genuine integration. Its efforts are aimed at exploiting any space it can for the benefit of its hegemonic interests and to suffocate those who seek to get out from under its influence.
“The real interest of the United States has been the same for decades: to prevent south-north migration, for its companies to have control of our natural resources, to sell its products with added value in the regional market, use our labour force as cheap labour, control international trade routes, expand its military presence, have geopolitical control and punish those who do not submit to its will.”
Two counter-summits are taking place parallel to the Los Angeles summit. The People’s Summit is being held from June 8 to 10, also in Los Angeles. The Workers’ Summit of the Americas takes place June 10-12 in Tijuana, Mexico, a few miles south of the U.S. border. Part of its program will be livestreamed on Facebook by various participating organizations.
(Prensa Latina, La Razon, El Mostrador, La Jornada, El Mundo, CBC, Canadian Press)
TML Daily, posted June 8, 2022.