The Divided Countries of America
Dissatisfaction with US claims to hegemony in the world is typical not only for our latitudes, but also for our neighbors on the continent. This is evidenced by the results of the meeting of the heads of state and government of the Western Hemisphere, which took place in Los Angeles from June 6 to 10. Such high-level meetings, or summits, are convened regularly under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS), created in 1948. The first list was initiated by Bill Clinton in 1994 in Miami. They have not been held in the US since.
This time the host was Joe Biden. For him, this was an extremely important event, because he intends to put an end to the discriminatory course of his predecessor Donald Trump in relation to his southern neighbors. The theme of the ninth summit was “Building a Sustainable and Equitable Future for the Western Hemisphere”. In addition to officials, leaders of civil society and business organizations were present. It was supposed to discuss in detail the issues of health, climate, environmental protection, economic and trade relations, the aggravated problem of migration from Central America.
But on the eve of the meeting, a scandal erupted, the echo of which has not subsided to this day. The reason was the lack of invitations to the leaders of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, due to the systematic violation of human rights in these countries. Brian Nichols, Undersecretary of State for Latin America, tried to explain this circumstance, considering observance of democracy as a prerequisite for participation in the summit.
However, he did not find understanding. There was a boycott of the event. Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, interim chairman of the Commonwealth of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), protested strongly. Andres Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico, stressed that in the absence of these countries he would not come himself, but would send Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. Venezuelan colleague Carlos Faria thanked the Mexican for his firm position. A similar opinion was shared by the Organization of the Caribbean Commonwealth of Nations.
The Commission on Foreign Affairs of the Cuban Parliament considered it an aggressive act to refuse to invite the country, despite participating in meetings in Lima and Panama in 2015 and 2018. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile joined these demands, although she emphasized that everyone knows “Chile's position on the violation of human rights in a number of countries.” For other reasons, the Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro joined the protests, holding a grudge against the American leader for persistent requests to strengthen the opposition to the pandemic.
Daniel Ortega, the head of Nicaragua, elected for another five-year term, said he was not interested in the summit. It is preferable to act within the framework of CELAC, where there is no US. His point of view was shared by Miguel Diaz-Canel, President of Cuba, who assured that he would not come to the event under any circumstances. He stressed that the country is successfully developing in the conditions of the blockade started by the northern neighbor.
Luis Arce, head of Bolivia, said that the refusal to invite sovereign countries shows that the leader, advocating for democracy in words, in fact ignores those who prefer to go their own way. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giamatti doubted his presence. Chilean leader Gabriel Boric said that exclusion is not a way to solve problems.
This kind of passion has never flared up around a meeting.
In an attempt to defuse the situation, a representative delegation visited Mexico on May 18 to discuss the situation. Speaking with ex-Senator Christopher Dodd, appointed special adviser to the summit, the Mexican president said: “I dream that the summit will open a new period in the history of relations, will help bring our peoples closer together, and Joe Biden can play an important role in this. ”.
To be present or not – a sharp controversy flared up around the fundamental issue. Arguments for and against were put forward. But most experts leaned towards the first option. It was believed that a chance should be given to the president, who continues the course of Barack Obama regarding the region, in particular Cuba, who restored diplomatic relations and personally visited Havana.
According to analyst Thomas Lopez, in order to achieve success in the negotiations, the parties had to make certain concessions. He was confident that Biden would not give up his support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
On May 23, the US authorities, indirectly reacting to the boycott, released an ornate formula, saying that they were thinking about a way to adequately represent Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua in the forum. In the meantime, these and other countries participated in the 21st summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, held in Havana on May 27.
Many Latin American experts considered that the refusal to invite countries was the administration's biggest strategic miscalculation.
15 deputies of the Lower House of Congress, all Democrats on May 25 turned to the head of state with a letter. It contained a request to reconsider the decision. According to parliamentarians, it undermines the prestige of the United States in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.
But the summit passed and ended without the personal participation of the heads of state of a number of countries. The US pledged to invest $2 billion to curb migration from Central America. This was informed by Vice President Kamala Harris. Head Mauricio Claver Corone said that “the continent is capable of becoming a sea of peace, turning into a supplier of manufactory for Asia and food for Europe.” We discussed the problem of more active participation of women in all areas of life. A project arose to create a sanitary corps to train 500,000 highly qualified doctors capable of successfully treating serious diseases. On the final day, 20 countries signed a Declaration containing specific measures to streamline migration. The US intends to accept 20,000 refugees within 2 years. So Biden tried to fulfill the promises made to his neighbors.
But the bitter aftertaste remained. The American leader intended to invite everyone, but, according to the Mexican president, he could not resist the pressure of the Republican lobby and influential Cuban immigrants.
It is a paradox: compared to previous meetings, the summit was less representative in terms of the number of top officials, but it turned out to be richer in terms of the number of discussed issues that concern the public of the region. The Chinese news agency claimed: “The final nail has been driven into the coffin of an obsolete system.” The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico believed that it was time to radically reform the OAS, bring it into line with reality. And he initiated the creation of a commission to prepare proposals.
In turn, Maduro put forward the idea of convening CELAC with Biden's invitation. With such a request, he addressed the interim chairman of the Commonwealth, emphasizing: “We were not invited to Los Angeles, we are ready to meet on our territory.”
After the meeting, the American president continues to reflect on the results. It cannot be ruled out that in the future it may accept such an invitation. Juan González, adviser for Latin America, spoke about this possibility. Joe Biden knows the region well. From 2009 to 2017, he visited these states 16 times.