Since its first edition, held in December 1994 in Miami under the presidency of Bill Clinton, the Summit of the Americas has brought together heads of state and government from the entire hemisphere, a total of 35 independent States of the American continent, to deal with high-level political, diplomatic and commercial issues, as well as discuss actions against common problems and shared challenges in the region to advance integration.
But the participation of presidents of democratically elected countries in North, Central and South America is not only a key factor but also an essential requirement to be part of this “35th meeting” in which American partners and allies participate every three years. Although none of its editions has been freed, in one way or another, from controversy. And neither is this one.
Former President Donald Trump did not attend the previous Summit, held in Peru in 2018, becoming the first president of the United States to be absent from the important event, and causing unrest among their counterparts in the region. Nor did Raúl Castro attend from Cuba or Nicolás Maduro from Venezuela, whose invitation was withdrawn with the support of 12 countries of the Lima Group, the United States and the Organization of American States (OAS).
Under the slogan “Building a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future,” this time the ninth edition of the Summit of the Americas will feature notorious absences (Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua) that have put the participation of other key countries such as Mexico at risk. and that could cause a possible boycott between other important governments, which ends up disrupting Joe Biden’s plans as host and reversing his intention to unify the democracies of America.
The Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, canceled his assistance this Monday, as soon as he became aware of the absence of the other countries. After weeks of speculation around the list of attendees at the meeting, the White House finally decided not to extend the invitation to Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela to participate in the Summit of the Americasorganized by the United States in the city of Los Angeles this week.
“I am not going to the Summit because not all the countries of the Americas are invited and I believe in the need to change the policy that has been imposed for centuries,” announced an annoyed AMLO who, instead, will send Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrand. “The exclusion, wanting to dominate for no reason, not respecting the sovereignty of the countries, the independence of each country,” added AMLO, who, however, plans to visit Biden in July in Washington.
The White House, however, repeatedly justified the decision not to invite “the autocratic governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela due to their record against human rights” and their “lack of democratic space” in a regional event that precisely aims to promote those principles.
Although, more than that of Nicaragua under the Ortega regime, the absences of Cuba and Venezuela were surprising after weeks of rapprochement by the Biden Administration for various reasons. On the one hand, with Cuba due to the return to Obama’s open policies recently rescued by his former vice president to facilitate social and economic mobility between the two countries. More commercial flights, remittances and family reunifications to the island will now be possible in this new stage of thaw.
On the other hand, since the Russian conflict in Ukraine exploded, Biden has sought new formulas to alleviate the economic consequences of the effects of the war. Among them, bringing positions closer to the Maduro regime to allow dialogue on a subject of common interest: oil.
Venezuela is the country with the largest oil reserves in the world. So supplying Europe with Venezuelan crude to reduce its dependence on Russia is one of the hopes of the Biden government and also one of his priorities since the war began more than three months ago.
For this reason, the US State Department gave the go-ahead to the oil companies Repsol and ENI so that both can export Venezuelan oil to Europe from the end of this month and thus alleviate the effects of the veto on Russian fuels. The Spanish and Italian oil companies will join, with this decision, the American Chevron, the only one with a presence in Venezuela, which has already approached positions and began negotiations with the Maduro regime last month.
Imposed by the Trump administration in 2017, the sanctions on Venezuela now eased by the Biden Administration included a ban on trading Venezuelan Treasury bonds in US financial markets or doing business with its major oil company, as well as the freezing of assets against officials. Venezuelans.
But these recent rapprochements could now be truncated by the diplomatic crisis that derives from Biden’s absences at the Summit of the Americas, if finally other countries decide not to show up this week at the meeting in Los Angeles following the example of Mexico and stand up to the president of the United States when he most needs the support of his regional allies.