Sun, 14 Aug 2022

Caracas, Venezuela, May 30, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Latin American and Caribbean countries have doubled down their rejection of the US-hosted IX Summit of the Americas for excluding Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

On Friday, regional leaders gathered at the XXI Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America - Peoples' Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) to condemn "the discriminatory treatment at the so-called Summit of the Americas," to be held on June 6-10 in Los Angeles.

"[We] reject the arbitrary, ideological and politically motivated exclusion of several of our countries. This unilateral decision constitutes a serious historical setback in hemispheric relations," read a statement approved at the end of the meeting in Havana, Cuba.

The ALBA countries likewise blasted the Biden administration's attempt "to maintain the region divided according to its hegemonic interests." They added that "all countries in the continent have the right to be invited and to participate on an equal footing" at the June summit.

Additionally, the regional leaders reaffirmed their commitment to transforming hemispheric relations "based on the principles of sovereignty, equality, non-interference in internal affairs [...] and self-determination of our peoples."

Despite the threat of an embarrassing boycott by a number of countries, the Biden administration has not backtracked on its decision to exclude Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua from the upcoming Summit of the Americas. On Thursday, US State Department official Kevin O'Reilly reiterated that the three countries would not receive invitations but that Cuba's participation was still being considered.

In response, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said that "under no circumstances" would he go to Los Angeles and accused Washington of applying "brutal pressure" in order to shut down countries' demands for the gathering to be inclusive.

"The practice of exclusion is not new and confirms the interest of the United States to control the Inter-American system in order to use it for hegemonic objectives and to regulate [other countries'] democracies. Neither politically nor morally is it their right to do so," stated Diaz-Canel during his opening speech at the ALBA-TCP meeting.

For his part, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro welcomed ALBA-TCP's rejection of the exclusionary Summit of the Americas and praised the "brave voices" that have risen to "defend the region's dignity." He especially applauded the president of Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, Bolivia and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) alliance for their support.

"We want to thank Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for leading this journey in defense of truth, union, fraternity, democratic debate and against exclusion," said Maduro at the ALBA-TCP gathering.

In recent weeks, Lopez Obrador has led diplomatic efforts to pressure Biden into inviting Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua to the upcoming summit. The Mexican president, his Bolivian counterpart Luis Arce and the CARICOM leaders have repeatedly threatened to boycott the event if the US insists on excluding certain countries, sending lower-level delegations instead.

With the IX Summit of the Americas shaping up to be a political setback for Washington, US lawmakers have also expressed their concern for the White House's plan to leave certain countries out. On May 26, a group of 12 House Democrats led by Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) requested Biden to choose a "policy of engagement" instead of "isolation." Meeks currently serves as Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

"An invitation for Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to participate in this year's Summit is not an endorsement of those countries' visions or ideologies. It is an invitation for engagement at a regional level that should be extended to every country in the Americas," stressed the letter sent to the Biden administration.

According to political analyst Katu Arkonada, the possible snubs against the US-hosted summit have begun to raise tensions inside Washington with President Biden even considering not attending the event.

In a Twitter thread, Arkonada claimed that the US State Department is preparing a smear media campaign against Cuba and Mexico for their role in undermining the US "imperial strategy" towards Latin America and the Caribbean.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas. 

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