For the holding of the ninth Summit of the Americas, the forum of heads of state from across the continent that has been held since 1994, the main complication has been the state of democracy. The meeting of leaders convenes every four years the governments of the nations that are part of the Organization of American States (OAS).
For the first time in 28 years the absence of Cuba is a problem, even though he has never participated in this event. In 2022, the recognition of the government of Nicolás Maduro also adds to the complications, as well as the inclusion of the regime of Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua.
There are two weeks left before the meeting in Los Angeles, from June 6 to 10, with Joe Biden as host president. The White House announced that it would not extend invitations to Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, countries that it does not regard as democratic. The island governed by Castroism has not been part of the OAS for several decades, and the regimes of Nicolás Maduro and Daniel Ortega withdrew from that forum in 2017 and 2022, respectively.
Now the three nations question their exclusion from the US call, especially after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced on May 11 that he would not attend the meeting if such a thing were to materialize. This week he has calmed his words, after it was assumed that Mexico could lead a boycott of the Summit, and in the midst of meetings with US delegations in his country.
But his voice has been backed by other governments in the region, such as that of Bolivian Luis Arce. The Caribbean Community (Caricom), which has 15 members, has also questioned its participation, while Chile advocates broad participation without conditioning President Gabriel Boric’s attendance.
The leaders of Argentina and Honduras, Alberto Fernández and Xiomara Castro, have done the same, demanding the inclusion of all governments without ruling out their own participation. President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala said that He will not go especially after the sanctions to his attorney general, María Consuelo Porras.
Biden also moves. This week it became known that he relaxed sanctions against Cuba, reestablishing commercial flights with the island beyond Havana, removing the limit on the sending of remittances and reactivating a family reunification program. In parallel, it became known about easing of economic sanctions against Venezuela, particularly in the oil sector.
“Thirty years ago America reached a consensus on the benefits of assuming democracy and building its development on it. However, after two decades of democratic erosion, that consensus is broken,” says Iria Puyosa, a Washington-based researcher at the Atlantic Council. She affirms that the authoritarian leaders have carried out maneuvers to put the Summit in check while “the democratic countries remained silent, they did not publicly advocate defending the Democratic Charter of the Americas.” This occurs, she adds, when Washington’s leadership over the region is questioned, due to the alignment of interests of various nations with Russia and China.
Until now, if the threats are fulfilled, the Summit of the Americas could include, perhaps, 17 countries of the 35 that make up the continent. The special adviser for the Summit of the Americas, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, said on Tuesday that “there will be no place at the table for those who violate human rights” and confirmed that Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela “probably will not be invited.”