Andrés Manuel López Obrador will not be at the ninth Summit of the Americas being held this week in Los Angeles. The Mexican president had already made it clear and this Monday he made his decision official, attributing it to the exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua from the conclave. He will send, on his behalf, a delegation headed by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard. “I am not going to the summit because not all the countries of the Americas are invited and I believe in the need to change the policy that has been imposed for centuries: exclusion, wanting to dominate for no reason, not respecting sovereignty of the countries, the independence of each country”, the president indicated during his morning press conference.
The president has assured in the same appearance that he has proposed to visit the White House in July, where he would meet with his American counterpart, Joe Biden. “I want to discuss with him the issue of the integration of all America,” said the Mexican president. That meeting, which would touch on an issue that López Obrador today refuses to address in Los Angeles, has not been confirmed by Washington. The Administration has not responded for the moment to the snub from the leader of one of its main trading partners.
A month ago, López Obrador made his participation subject to the invitation of representatives from Havana, Caracas and Managua, whose governments the United States systematically accuses of violating human rights. Thus began a low-intensity pulse with the White House, very interested in Mexico’s presence in the regional forum in order to jointly defend North America’s priorities in terms of the economy, health, security and migration. Several diplomatic channels were activated, but not even the intervention of the circle closest to Biden managed to convince the Mexican president. “There cannot be a Summit of the Americas if all the countries of the American continent do not participate, or there can be, but we consider that it is to continue with the old policy of interventionism, of disrespect for nations and their peoples,” insisted the politician, who instead of going to the neighboring country will travel to the State of Oaxaca to deal with the emergency caused by Hurricane Agatha, which left nine dead and four missing.
López Obrador’s position and the negotiation with Washington had repercussions throughout the continent. Other Latin American leaders supported the request of the Mexican president, among them, the Chilean Gabriel Boric, who will go, or the Honduran Xiomara Castro, who ultimately will not. But it was above all the Argentine Alberto Fernández, an ally of Mexico on several political and diplomatic fronts, who made this approach his own and multiplied the unknowns about his presence in Los Angeles, until in the end he agreed with López Obrador to go and speak on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), an organization that critics of the Organization of American States (OAS) want to give more prominence.
The president has avoided slamming the door until the last moment, although in recent weeks he had made it clear that he would not attend if the United States did not agree to include everyone. “There is still time”, used to be his response when asked about it, hiding behind the fact that Biden had not yet responded to his request. The US president mobilized former senator Chris Dodd to test the waters. This veteran Democratic politician held a virtual meeting with López Obrador, who formally conveyed his demand. Although the White House had not given a response, senior administration officials announced that Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua would not be welcome.
The Undersecretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Brian Nichols, assured, for example, in a conversation with EL PAÍS that it did not seem convenient to include “countries that do not respect democracy.” However, in the midst of the negotiation, Biden made some significant gestures that fueled Mexico’s hopes. That is, he first softened his policy towards Cuba, partially recovering the path of former President Barack Obama. And then he lowered the oil sanctions on Venezuela, which reopened the possibility, still remote, of resuming the dialogue between Chavismo and the opposition.
Mexico’s participation in the summit was never in danger, since Foreign Minister Ebrard will attend, a heavyweight of the López Obrador government and a candidate for succession. However, the desire of the United States was that the neighboring country be represented by the president. “At the summit, Mexico is required to be there with its leadership,” said Ambassador Ken Salazar. Ebrard, who had called a press conference for this morning to talk about the summit and the construction of “a sustainable, resilient and equitable future”, canceled it after López Obrador’s announcement.
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