HAVANA, May 11th Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Tuesday that he is prepared to boycott the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles if the US excludes Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela — a move that could throw the event into disarray.
“If they exclude, if not all are invited, a representative of the Mexican government is going to go, but I would not,” Mr López Obrador said during his daily news conference.
His announcement sets up his country in a standoff with its northern neighbor. US Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols has said that the three countries in question, which the US considers anti-democratic, will not likely be invited to the summit.
But those three countries, long at odds with the US, now have a sympathetic audience in Mr. López Obrador — a left-wing leader who recently criticized the US on a tour of Central America that took him to Cuba as well.
“They are different things and they shouldn’t be compared categorically, but they have already approved $30bn for the war in Ukraine, while we have been waiting since President Donald Trump, asking them to donate $4bn, and as of today, nothing, absolutely nothing,” Mr. López Obrador said in Guatemala City last week.
Central American migration to the US is expected to be a point of emphasis at the summit. In March, President Joe Biden said that the US’s goal is “to sign a regional declaration on migration and protection” and to establish a “new framework of how nations throughout the region can collectively manage migration in the Western Hemisphere.”
Immigration has been a political weak point for Mr. Biden throughout his first year-and-a-half in office, with just 32 percent of voters approving of his handling of the issue in a March poll. Mr. Biden’s decision to end Title 42, a Trump-era immigration restriction implemented with the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, has also polled poorly.
To accomplish its political goals, the US likely needs buy-in from Mexico — the country that migrants from the likes of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador must travel through to reach the north.
Mexico isn’t the only country threatening a boycott if Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are not invited. A number of Caribbean nations, including Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent, have also threatened boycotts and voiced their displeasure with the US’s plan to invite Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó to the summit.
Argentina, which holds the rotating presidency of the Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States, has also weighed in, urging in the US in a tweet “to avoid exclusions that impede having all the voices of the hemisphere in dialogue and being heard.”
Cuba has been invited to the last two summits, though it sent its foreign minister in 2018 because of the exclusion of Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the US hasn’t “made a decision yet about who will be invited” when asked about the issue during her press briefing on Tuesday.
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that a senior Biden administration official said that he believes the boycott threats are largely empty posturing to appease Cuba and that he expects Mr. López Obrador and other top regional leaders to attend the summit.
All will be revealed soon enough — the summit kicks off in less than a month.