Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua have been excluded from this year’s SOA summit by the US administration, sources familiar with the case told foreign agencies. The decision was caused by Washington’s reservations about respect for human rights and the state of democracy in these countries.
After weeks of discussions with the Latin American and Caribbean governments, the US has made the final decision on the participation of the three countries in SOA, which is slated to begin this week in Los Angeles, the source said, quoted by Bloomberg on Monday. Earlier, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced a boycott of the summit if all Western Hemisphere countries were not invited to SOA. According to this agency, other regional leaders may resign from the summit in addition to Obrador as part of the boycott of the American decision.
If Obrador does not appear, the question may arise about the prospects for progress in the discussions on restricting migration on the US southern border, a priority for President Joe Biden.
Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua excluded from the summit
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel announced in May that he would not make it to the summit, even if invited, accusing the US of “brutal pressure” to make this year’s SOA “non-inclusive”. Cuba participated in the two previous summits. Cuban civil society activists were invited to participate in the event.
Following the exclusion of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from the summit, the US administration is considering inviting Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is likely to attend a side event remotely, an anonymous US official said. The US recognizes Guaido as the rightful president of Venezuela, thus condemning the re-election of Maduro. According to Washington, the 2018 Venezuelan elections were rigged.
Also excluded from the SOA summit were Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist fighter who won his fourth consecutive term in November after throwing his rivals into prison.
Reuters: Region Leaders Turn On US
Controversy over the guest list could harm the main American goal of the meeting, which was to use the summit to repair relations with Latin America, damaged by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, strengthen US influence and counter Chinese influence in the region, comments Reuters.
Most Latin American leaders have signaled they will participate in this year’s SOA, the agency adds, but opposition from left-wing governments indicates that many in the region are reluctant to follow the US lead as they did in the past. Anonymous White House officials argued that the controversy over the invitations would subside and that the summit would be a success regardless of who attended.
Main photo source: StringerAL / Shutterstock