Alberto Fernández will attend the ninth Summit of the Americas convened for next week in Los Angeles. The president of Argentina confirmed it this Wednesday to his US counterpart, Joe Biden, during a 25-minute phone conversation. Fernández’s decision puts an end to a soap opera of weeks, which began with the White House’s decision to exclude Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua from the guest list, countries that he considers violating human rights. The Mexican Andrés Manuel López Obrador then excluded himself from the Summit, as a protest. Fernandez joined him immediately, who will finally be in Los Angeles, but with the mission of being the voice of the protest of those who were left out of the call.
The diplomatic solution, which avoids a furious rudeness to Washington, has been to take advantage of the fact that Fernández holds the temporary presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and from there he will take the regional complaint. The Argentine was reluctant to clearly define his presence at the summit, and has done so after the United States, the host, confirmed that he still has not finalized the official guest list.
The participation of delegations from all the countries of the continent, including those that according to Washington systematically violate human rights such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, was the condition initially set by the Mexican López Obrador to be at the summit. Other Latin American leaders supported this request, among them, the Chilean Gabriel Boric or the Honduran Xiomara Castro, although they never questioned their participation in the meeting. But it was above all Fernández, an ally of Mexico on several political and diplomatic fronts, who endorsed that approach and sowed doubts about his presence in Los Angeles.
As happened with the López Obrador Executive, the Joe Biden Administration expressed concern about the possible absence of Argentina and mobilized a veteran Democratic leader, former Senator Chris Dodd, to maintain contacts with the most suspicious countries. He scheduled a virtual meeting with the Mexican president, but was unable to convince him. He later visited Fernández, Boric, the Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro and the Uruguayan Luis Lacalle Pou. He managed to get a participation commitment from all of them, except for the Argentine.
Last Thursday night, after the meeting, Fernández called his Mexican counterpart to exchange opinions. It was López Obrador himself who revealed, the next day, the existence of that conversation and over the weekend he gave more details about its content during a visit to the State of Sinaloa. “We talked about attendance at the summit. So, he asked me a question, we talked about it and there is an agreement, but not to hold a parallel summit in the US, no. [El acuerdo] it is this: that in case it is not accepted to invite all the countries, he, as president of CELAC, speaks that we do not agree with the exclusions”, he stated in statements to Radio Formula. And so it was done.
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