Tuesday, September 27

The IX Summit of the Americas begins in the United States with the ghost of failure in tow

  • The factual exclusion of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba has generated a wave of unrest in Latin American countries

  • It is not yet known if the president of Mexico, Manuel López Obrador, will attend the meeting in Los Angeles

Los Angeles, the Latino city par excellence in the United States, opens its doors this Monday to the IX Summit of the Americas which, for days, has become a headache for the host president, Joe Biden. The meetings this Monday between representatives of civil society, the private sector and governments will adhere to the dictates of the protocol. Nothing unexpected will happen during those hours of friendly exchanges. For the rest, the meeting that should conclude on Friday and in two days should host the leaders, offers too many unknowns that could represent for Biden a stumble in his continental policy. The motto of the IX Summit, “Building a sustainable, resilient and equitable future”, has remained a well-intentioned babble. The problems began to become visible with the exclusion of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba’s decision not to go before being told she wasn’t invited. Mexico protested. President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has questioned his attendance. He said that if “all countries” were not invited, he would be represented in Los Angeles by Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.

US diplomacy launched an offensive to avoid the possibility of such a snub in the midst of the migration crisis. In fact, this very Monday a caravan of thousands of Venezuelan migrants desperate to set foot on the other side of the Rio Grande. Some 7,000 undocumented migrants try to cross the common border every day. The situation has become entangled to the point that Biden’s main adviser for Latin America, Juan González, said days ago that the president “personally wants” López Obrador to accompany him at the opening ceremony of the meeting at the level of heads of state. which, it is already known, will not be 35. The Mexican’s response is still up in the air.

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For now, the Bolivian Luis Arce decided to stay in La Paz. “Institutions hit of the same Summit of the Americas when countries are being excluded,” he said. Guatemala, Honduras and the 14-nation Caribbean bloc questioned his participation at the highest level. The Argentine Alberto Fernandez he threatened to turn his back on the appointment, but will travel to the North American west coast to report on the regional unrest. “We are going to be well represented,” said the Venezuelan Nicholas Maduro.

The Venezuelan absence has only put on stage the paradoxes of Washington’s foreign policy. The “no” to Maduro of the hosts coincides with the decision of the United States to authorize Chevron, the Italian Eni and Repsol to exploit its hydrocarbon deposits in Venezuela to send it to Europe and, in this way, offset some of the effects of the crisis in the oil market unleashed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “These are slight but significant steps,” said Maduro himself. The other gesture silently valued by the Miraflores Palace has greater effects on domestic politics: the former deputy Juan Guaidostill recognized by Washington as “interim president” of Venezuela, did not receive an invitation to travel to Los Angeles either.

Bolsonaro welcome

The other paradox of this IX Summit involves the far-right Jair Bolsonaro. The president of Brazil is awaited with open arms by Biden, who considered him a toxic figure until a year and a half ago. The presidents never spoke. Now they will have the opportunity to do so alone and in the framework of the deliberations. “The possibility of the Summit becoming a diplomatic failure due to the absence of the most important countries in Latin America, it was skillfully exploited by Bolsonaro,” said the newspaper Folha of Saint Paul.

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Related news

The VIII Summit of the Americas took place in April 2018 in Lima. Donald Trump did not go. But, in addition, Peru was mired in an institutional scandal. Under the Republican administration, the region acquired an irrelevant weight, unless it was Venezuela and Cuba or the construction of the wall on the border with Mexico. Biden’s electoral victory raised expectations that have not been met. The IX meeting should have been held last year. It was not possible due to the pandemic that aggravated the problems of a region that in 2022 expects a modest average growth of 1.8%. The rate of extreme poverty it is 13.8% in Latin America and involves 86 million people. General poverty hits, meanwhile, 201 million Latin Americans, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

China’s shadow

Part of the economic concerns of the host are not the same as those of most of the invited countries. Washington has set off the alarms because of the weight that China has acquired. And although the topic is not on the work agenda, it will hover over the most important conversations. Latin America and the Caribbean have become the second largest destination for foreign investment from the Asian giant. During the first three months of 2021, trade reached 331.88 billion dollars.


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