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ARGENTINA | 12-05-2022 17:32

Fernández to attend Summit of the Americas despite LatAm drop-out threats

President confirms attendance in Los Angeles next month, but backs Mexican leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s demand that Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela be invited.

President Alberto Fernández has confirmed that he will attend next month’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, while requesting that all countries be invited to the event.

The high-profile meeting, which runs from June 6 to 10, has become a subject of great debate in recent days after Mexican leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he would not attend unless the leaders of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua are invited.

If US President Joe Biden's administration excludes the three nations from the talks, Mexico will send Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard instead, López Obrador told reporters on Tuesday.

Bolivian President Luis Arce has also cast doubt over his attendance for the same reason, while reports in Brazil suggest right-wing Jair Bolsonaro may also skip the summit, though for different reasons.

Speaking from Berlin, during this week’s European tour, Fernández said he would travel to Los Angeles for the event, though he made a point of echoing López Obrador’s concerns.

“I plan to go to the Summit of the Americas, but I ask the organisers the same as Andrés Manuel López Obrador: that they invite all Latin American countries,” the Argentine leader told Deutsche Welle.

The Summit of the Americas brings together leaders from North, South, Central America and the Caribbean, but the Biden administration is exploring the possibility of excluding the leaders of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua due to concerns over democracy in the troubled nations.

"I don't want the same policy to continue in America, and I want, in fact, to assert independence and sovereignty and show universal fraternity," López Obrador said this week.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, responding to the remarks, said Tuesday that "a final decision has not been made yet" on whether Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela would be invited to the talks.

"We know that the summit is a valuable opportunity to focus on some of the most important issues like the ongoing fight for freedom and democracy for every country, our shared climate goals and stronger, more collaborative Covid-19 response, and addressing the root causes of migration," she told reporters.

In recent days, the head of US diplomacy for the region, Brian Nichols, said he hoped that Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela would not be represented at the Summit. 

 

Reconsidering

Other Latin American leaders are also reconsidering whether to attend. 

Bolivian leader Arce recently announced that he would not attend the Summit if the United States "persists" in its decision to exclude other countries, echoing Mexico’s position.

"I reaffirm that a Summit of the Americas that excludes American countries will not be a full Summit of the Americas, and if the exclusion of brotherly peoples persists, I will not participate in it," said the leader in a social media post.

He declared that Bolivia "bases its international relations on the diplomacy of the peoples, with inclusion, solidarity, complementarity, respect for sovereignty, self-determination and collective construction of the culture of dialogue and peace."

According to reports, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is also evaluating missing the summit – an occasion that could provide his first face-to-face meeting with Biden. 

The possible absence of the Brazilian leader at the international meeting was reported by Reuters and later confirmed by Folha de São Paulo. According to different interlocutors, Bolsonaro’s decision whether or not to attend has not yet been officially made, but a series of factors are weighing on his lack of interest in travelling to the United States now. 

The primary reason, according to these sources, is the internal scenario in Brazil. Bolsonaro is pre-campaigning for re-election and has shown resistance in leaving the country to fulfil an international agenda.

Although a meeting with the US leader is desired by members of the government, the photo with the Democrat is seen by members of the pre-campaign as something of little electoral value, as Bolsonaro is a declared ally of Biden’s Republican predecessor in office Donald Trump.

If Bolsonaro decides against attending, the government is likely to send Vice-President Hamilton Mourão as its most high-level representative, as well as Foreign Minister Carlos França, reports in Brazil suggest.

The summit will emphasise the migration crisis, climate change, Covid-19 and the "struggle for freedom and democracy", Washington said.


— TIMES/AFP/NA/FOLHA

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