Mexican president threatens to skip Americas summit

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president said Tuesday that he will not attend next month’s summit of the Americas in Los Angeles if the Biden administration excludes Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua — a gathering of leaders in the region As people increasingly warned of boycotts, he also made his voice heard. .

President Andres Manuel López Obrador has been saying in recent weeks that the U.S. government should not exclude anyone from the summit, but he has not previously threatened to stay home.

“If they rule out, if not everyone is invited, representatives of the Mexican government will go, but I won’t,” Lopez Obrador said at his daily news conference, which has just visited Cuba . He said his foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, would go.

The absence of the Mexican president will be a blow to a summit expected to focus on immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Biden administration has been trying to build a regional consensus for months. Cabinet members have been visiting the region, urging allies to tighten immigration controls and expand their asylum programs.

“Our goal is to… sign a regional declaration on immigration and protection in Los Angeles when the U.S. hosts the Summit of the Americas in June,” President Joe Biden said when he hosted Colombian President Ivan Duque at the White House in March.

He called for “a new framework for how countries across the region can work together to manage migration in the Western Hemisphere.”

Such cooperation will be crucial as the U.S. grapples with a flood of migrants arriving at its southern border and prepares to lift restrictions on asylum claims there later this month, which is expected to draw more migrants north.

But Caribbean leaders have also discussed a collective boycott of the summit if countries are excluded, and criticized the U.S. plan to invite Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. The United States recognizes him as the country’s legitimate president, but many Caribbean nations do not.

“We do not believe in policies that exclude Cuba and Venezuela. We do not recognize Juan Guaido as the president of Venezuela. Antigua and Barbuda will not be involved in this situation,” said the country’s Prime Minister Gaston Brown .

He said a meeting of Caribbean foreign ministers in Belize in March had formed a consensus to boycott the summit if countries were excluded, “but I’m not sure that consensus will hold.”

Saint Vincent’s Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves shared a similar sentiment: “If Guaido represents Venezuela, it would be foolish for the Americans to do that,” Gonsalves said on the weekend radio The show said that Saint Vincent might not be present if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was excluded.

Cuba is an active member of the Community of Caribbean States, and the communist-ruled island has offered thousands of free scholarships to Caribbean medical, engineering and other students since the mid-1970s. Successive Venezuelan governments have supplied the Caribbean nation with prefab homes and cheap oil.

A senior Biden administration official said the pushback was largely in response to a strong diplomatic push from Cuba — a perennial touchstone for the Latin American left — that the U.S. expects few leaders to follow through on threats to skip the summit.

Behind the scenes, several Caribbean leaders said they planned to attend to discuss private diplomatic communications, according to the official, who asked not to be named.

The government expects both Lopez Obrador and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro to attend, the official said.

Cuba was excluded from the first six hemispheric summits held between 1994 and 2012. But Cuba was invited to a meeting in Panama in 2015 and relations with Cuba thawed amid growing threats from leftist leaders in Latin America to be excluded. US President Barack Obama met with Cuban leader Raul Castro at the event.

Cuba was also invited to the last summit in Peru in 2018, but Castro sent his foreign minister instead because Venezuela’s Maduro was not invited. US President Donald Trump was also not in attendance.

Argentina, which currently chairs the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, also issued a call this month to avoid excluding any government.

In a tweet, it called the summit “a great opportunity to create a space for a meeting of all countries in the hemisphere” and urged organizers to “avoid excluding situations that hinder the conversation and being heard of all voices in the hemisphere.” .”

If a Biden administration invites all countries, Lopez Obrador leaves open the possibility that he can participate. He noted that previous summits had not ruled out any country, and blamed the current situation on a political minority in the United States that supports “hostile policies.”

“There is still time before the summit and we can make a deal, but we must come together and seek American unity,” he said.

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