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The United States Excludes Cuba and Venezuela From the Americas Meeting, While Mexico’s President Sits Out

The United States’ decision to ban Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua from this week’s Summit of the Americas prompted Mexico’s president to follow through on a threat to boycott the event since all Western Hemisphere countries were not invited.

The absence of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and a few other leaders from the meeting in Los Angeles, where the US hopes to discuss regional migration and economic concerns, may reduce the conference’s impact.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, hopes to mend strained ties with Latin America shattered by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, reassert US influence, and counter China’s advances.

According to a senior US official, the decision to exclude Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua came after weeks of intense deliberation and was based on concerns about human rights and a lack of democracy in the three countries.

The Biden administration “understands” Mexico’s position, according to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, but “democratic governance is one of the key elements of this summit, and these countries are not exemplars, to put it mildly.”

Biden’s aides have been wary of Republican and Democratic pressure to appear soft on America’s three main leftist adversaries in Latin America.

Miami’s large Cuban-American community, which backed Trump’s harsh policies toward Cuba and Venezuela, is seen as a key voting bloc in Florida’s November elections, which will determine whether the Democrats retain control of the US Congress, which is now in their hands.

In his place, Lopez Obrador announced that his foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, would attend the summit.

The Mexican president announced that he will meet with Vice President Joe Biden in Washington next month, which the White House confirmed. continue reading

“There can’t be an Americas Summit if not every country on the continent is represented,” Lopez Obrador said.

The absence of Lopez Obrador from the summit, which Biden is scheduled to open on Wednesday, raises questions about summit discussions focused on reducing migration at the US southern border, a priority for Biden, and could be a diplomatic embarrassment for the US.

A caravan of thousands of migrants, many of whom are from Venezuela, left southern Mexico early Monday to reach the United States. continue reading

A senior administration official insisted, however, that Lopez Obrador’s absence would not prevent Biden from launching a regional migration initiative.

At least 23 heads of state and government are expected, according to the White House, which is consistent with previous summits.


Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, slammed the Mexican president, saying that his “decision to stand with dictators and despots” would harm US-Mexico relations.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro shakes hands with his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, Cuba, on May 27, 2022, during the ALBA group meeting.

After flirting with skipping the event, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist and Trump supporter who leads Latin America’s most populous country, will attend. continue reading

In recent weeks, the exclusion of Venezuela and Nicaragua had been raised. Last month, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said he would not attend even if invited, accusing the US of applying “brutal pressure” to make the summit non-inclusive.

Cuba slammed the decision as “discriminatory and unacceptable” on Monday, claiming that the US underestimated regional support for the island nation.

Some Cuban civil society activists were invited to attend, but several said on social media that Cuban state security had prevented them from travelling to Los Angeles. continue reading

After ruling out Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Price said the Biden administration expects opposition leader Juan Guaido’s representatives to attend. He wouldn’t say whether they’d be there in person or online.

When asked if Biden would call Guaido during the summit, a senior administration official said there was a good chance of an “engagement,” but declined to elaborate.

Guaido is recognised as Venezuela’s legitimate president by the US, which called Maduro’s re-election in 2018 a sham. However, some countries in the region have remained loyal to Maduro.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla who won a fourth consecutive term in November after imprisoning rivals, is also barred from attending the summit.

While the majority of leaders have indicated that they will attend, the pushback from leftist-led governments suggests that many in Latin America are no longer willing to follow Washington’s lead as they have in the past.

With low expectations for summit results, US officials started previewing Biden’s upcoming initiatives.

An “Americas partnership” for pandemic recovery, which would entail investments and supply-chain strengthening, IDB reform, and a $300 million commitment for regional food security are among them.

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Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Eric Beech, and Patricia Zengerle in Washington, Kylie Madry and Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City, Jose Torres in Tapachula, and Dave Sherwood in Havana.

Ted Hesson wrote the piece, and Grant McCool, Alistair Bell, and Leslie Adler edited it.

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