A cloud hangs over the Summit of the Americas in LA
ON June 6, the 9th Summit of the Americas opened in Los Angeles. It should be the most complicated and controversial. A smoldering boycott on the guest list for this year’s summit is enough to hint at a crisis caused by some leaders’ refusal to attend unless all are invited.
Originally scheduled for 2021, the summit was delayed a year by the pandemic. This set the theme for what would be discussed at the summit, under the slogan of “building an equitable, sustainable and resilient future”.
The Summit of the Americas once aimed to create a common market in the Americas, but that goal was too ambitious and consensus was not achieved. Now the summit seeks cooperation on common issues. However, it comes up against individual interests which impose themselves to the detriment of “common interests”. This is the case of the United States, which sees in this summit an opportunity to strengthen its leadership in the region and to impose its own program on the weakest countries.
The 2022 summit sees a change in the rules of the game. Previously, at the 2018 summit in Peru, US President Donald Trump refused to attend, delegating the responsibility to his vice president, an action frowned upon by the authorities. regional leaders and seen as a disdain for the region. However, the United States offered to host the next summit, a proposal accepted by all participants.
The selection of Los Angeles is no accident. It is the city that can be considered the most ethnically pluralistic, so one can presume an attempt at reconciliation and a call to action by the United States to regain its position in the region and in the world. But leftist governments in Latin America will not make it easy for the Biden administration.
Although China is far from the Latin American continent, Beijing’s presence and interest in the region are becoming more visible every day. Over the past 10 years, China has signed many free trade agreements, investment treaties, infrastructure agreements and other trade agreements in Latin America.
In addition, the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is gaining more and more support in Latin America, with Argentina being the first country to sign an agreement to allow the arrival of this project in the country. For this reason, the United States is looking to promote its Build Back Better World (B3W) plan in the region and the summit is the perfect scenario. However, experts agree that the B3W and Growth in the Americas projects lack the experience and planning that BRI already has.
US officials have repeatedly said that the autocratic governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela will not be invited to the meeting which, in theory, brings together governments from across the continent, from Canada to Chile and the Caribbean.
At the end of April and with less and less time for the organization of the summit, Cuba denounced the United States which excluded the island from participating in the summit. The president of Mexico followed suit, demanding that all governments on the continent be present to have a general vision. This soon became a warning that he would not participate. To this threat not to attend if Maduro, Ortega and Díaz-Canel were not invited, the presidents of Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Honduras were added, as well as a declaration on this subject from ‘other leaders who, despite their rejection of Maduro administration in Venezuela, agree that Venezuela is part of Latin America and for this simple fact deserves to be invited.
Regardless of the outcome, a contentious and divisive summit is expected to be marked by the schism between Latin America and the United States due to the lack of knowledge in the region caused by disinterest in the region, except when Washington seeks support. for its own initiatives, in addition to the growing influence of China in the region which, although denied by American officials, is a situational problem. Finally, left-leaning Latin American countries are also taking on the United States to demonstrate that they “don’t want to be anyone’s backyard anymore.” The message got through: if Latin America is assembled as a whole, it is a piece to be considered on the global geopolitical chessboard.
BY RICARDO GUERRERO, GLOBAL TIMES
Ricardo Guerrero received his law degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and his master’s degree in comparative law from the Chinese University of Political Science and Law.
This opinion piece was first published in the Global Times on June 5, 2022. The Global Times is an English-language Chinese tabloid under People’s Daily, an official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.