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Latin American leaders snub Biden over regional summit

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks at a campaign rally in the city of Chihuahua, Mexico, on June 18, 2018. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
June 08, 2022

A number of Latin American leaders snubbed President Joe Biden this week after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador decided to boycott a summit for regional leaders based in Los Angeles despite a months-long effort by the Biden administration to convince Obrador to attend.

In the wake of Lopez Obrador’s decision not to attend the Summit of the Americas, several Central American nations chose to send lower-level delegates rather than governmental leaders, CNN reported Tuesday. In addition to Mexico, the presidents of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala decided to protest the event altogether, citing the Biden administration’s decision to exclude regional autocrats.  

“There cannot be a Summit of the Americas if all countries of the Americas cannot attend,” López Obrador told reporters in Mexico City. “This is to continue the old interventionist policies, of lack of respect for nations and their people.”  

Biden administration officials said on Monday that the summit’s turnout is not a concern, arguing that lower-level delegates attending in place of high-level government officials will not change its impact.

“We really do expect that the participation will not be in any way a barrier to getting significant business done at the summit. In fact, quite the opposite, we are very pleased with how the deliverables are shaping up and with other countries commitment to them,” one senior administration official said.

According to the White House, Biden planned to announce a “historic new agreement” dubbed the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity – an effort designed to “drive our hemisphere’s economy recovery and growth, and deliver for our working people.”

“Together with partners, we deepen our economic cooperation, focusing on the largest drivers of middle-out growth, and shaping new tools for the challenges facing us today and, in the decades, to come,” the White House said.

“We will strengthen our supply chains to be more resilient against unexpected shocks. We will foster innovation in both the public and private sectors, so governments can better address society’s most pressing challenges, and businesses can enhance their productivity. And we will tackle the climate crisis by growing climate-related industries that will give rise to high-quality jobs.”

The White House also defended President Biden’s decision not to invite the dictators of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

“At the end of the day, … we just don’t believe dictators should be invited. We don’t regret that, and the President will stand by his principle,” Jean-Pierre said.