By Tanveer Kaur
The United States hosted the 9th annual Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California from June 6th to June 10th, emphasizing the theme of building a “sustainable, resilient, and equitable future.” The theme founded discussions regarding various topics including healthcare, clean energy, economics, and migration but a few select nations were notably absent.
Traditionally, the host nation decides on the invitees but Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela were notably missing from the USA’s host list. A Biden Administration official noted the move to do so because of the “lack of democratic space and human rights situations” in those nations. U.S. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later announced in a press conference to reporters: “We just don’t believe dictators should be invited. We don’t regret that and the President will stand by his principle.”
President Biden’s hopes of making true diplomatic progress through the Summit were significantly hindered as he received backlash from both Mexico’s left-wing populist president, Andres Manuel López Obrador, and Brazil’s right-wing populist leader, Jair Bolsonaro. Obrador warned Biden that he would boycott the summit if he excluded the three countries, stating “I am not going to the summit because not all American countries are invited and I believe the need to change the policy that has been in place for centuries: The exclusion, the desire to dominate without any reason, the disrespect of countries’ sovereignty [and] the independence of each country.” López Obrador also noted that the nation’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, would instead represent the nation at the event. Ebrard shares the same sentiments as President Obrador, stating that the decision to not invite the three countries “is a serious error.”
For many, the summit begs a serious question: how does Biden expect to manage an unprecedented migration crisis in the Americas when Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba—home to millions of migrants—are notably absent from the conversation? Although at least 23 heads of state and government are expected to attend, the pushback by numerous Latin American governments perpetuates low expectations for Biden’s summit initiatives. The Biden Administration’s willingness to ignore the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Honduras was seen by some as signs of U.S. imperialism and ignorance of the true issues that all nations face while a resentment to face the diplomatic and ideological conflicts.