Biden admin gets one right in disinviting Cuba, other ‘authoritarian leaders’ from Summit of the Americas

It looks like the Biden administration has at last done something conservatives can applaud and disinvited Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba from the Summit of the Americas, citing authoritarian leaders and human rights violations.

Held every three or four years, the Summit of the Americas will be hosted in the United States this June, marking the first time a U.S. president has hosted the event since its first convention in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton.

“Only the Summit of the Americas brings together leaders from the countries of North, South, and Central America, and the Caribbean,” according to the U.S. State Department. “The Summit, and its stakeholder forums, promote cooperation towards region-wide, inclusive economic growth and prosperity based on our shared respect for democracy, fundamental freedoms, the dignity of labor, and free enterprise.”

And it is presumably out of this “shared respect for democracy” that the Biden administration has told the leaders of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba to stay home.

“Administration officials have made it clear they will not invite Venezuela or Nicaragua, because those countries’ authoritarian leaders do not represent the model of democracy Washington and others in the region seek to promote,” explains the Los Angeles Times.

“U.S. officials also said initially they would not invite Cuba, then suggested they might welcome a ‘lo level’ delegation from Havana,” the Times continues. “A diminished status did not appeal to Cuban officials, however, and President Miguel Diaz-Canel said earlier this week he will not attend.”

While the move may be a welcomed one by conservatives, Mexican President López Obrador is now refusing to participate in the summit — a big blow to the Biden White House, as immigration is the special focus of the event and Mexico is arguably the most important participant in that discussion.

In his daily press conference, Obrador stated that he would send a lower-level representative to the summit, but he would not be attending.

“We are going to wait to see what they [U.S. officials] decide, but regardless, Mexico will participate,” the leader said. “It’s just that I will not attend if all countries are not invited.”

“What is this supposed to be,” he asked, “the Summit of the Americas, or the Summit of the Friends of America?”

To discourage the boycott from spreading to other nations, Biden sent his special envoy for the summit, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, to Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, the assistant secretary of State for the Western hemisphere, Brian Nichols, headed to the Caribbean, where several nations have reportedly said that they, too, will protest the exclusion of the three countries by staying home.

Even Democrats are criticizing Biden’s move, with one group of Democratic members of Congress releasing a letter to the president in which they called the decision a mistake, citing the difficulties Latin America and the Caribbean have had grappling with the pandemic, the war between Ukraine and Russia, and, of course, “the impacts of climate change.”

“As staunch believers in the important diplomatic role that multilateral summits can play in addressing these common crises, we feel strongly that excluding countries could jeopardize future relations throughout the region and put some of the ambitious policy proposals your administration launched under Build Back Better World at risk,” the letter reads.

Both White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and State Department spokesperson Ned Price have declined to comment on the status of summit invitations, but President Obrador, whom the Times describes as having “certain authoritarian tendencies” of his own, has been more than vocal about his displeasure.

“President Biden is respectful, he always speaks to me about respect, sovereignty and believes we should treat each other as equals,” Obrador said. “Now is not the time to exclude anyone.”


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Melissa Fine


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