The United States refuses to invite Cuba to the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles

The Biden administration plans to rule out Cuba from the upcoming Summit of the Americas, a major global meeting to be held in Los Angeles in June that typically welcomes all governments in the Western Hemisphere, a senior US official told the Times.

The summit, held every three to four years, is convened in the United States for the first time since the 1994 inaugural session in Miami. Los Angeles was chosen as the location earlier this year.

Administration I refuse to invite Cuba it is likely to anger many other Latin American countries as President Biden and the State Department attempt to repair damaged relations in the region.

“We expect the democratic nations of our hemisphere to come together for a conversation,” Brian Nichols, assistant secretary of state for the western hemisphere, said in an interview referring to the summit.

Cuba, he said, is definitely not part of that group, especially after the demonstrations last July in which Cubans demanded political and economic freedoms. Many people were arrested and at least one died. Furthermore, Washington opposed Russian influence in Communist-ruled Cuba, its lack of free speech and its register of human rights.

Numerous supporters who have advocated for improved relations with Cuba, including some in Congress, have had he hoped the Biden administration would reopen diplomatic, political and commercial relations with the island that were frozen by former President Trump. Trump reversed an initial and historic opening initiated by then President Obama, who sought to end half a century of Cold War hostility.

However, President Biden has done little to dismiss Trump’s scolding of Cuba, which included adding the country to a US government list of terrorist sponsoring states. And the administration is only slowly restoring US consular services in Havana that would help Cubans obtain legal travel visas.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel visits the residents

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel visits Caimanera residents in 2019.

(Ishmael Francisco / Associated Press)

Furthermore, a US remittance policy, money that people, including American Cubans, can send to island residents, remains “under scrutiny,” strangling a lifeline for many. American carrier flights, US tourist travel, and cultural exchanges also remain problematic without clearer guidelines from the administration.

Meanwhile, a severe economic embargo on the island that dates back to the Eisenhower administration remains in place.

the hard line on Cuba appears to have been transferred to the Summit of the Americas.

For many summits after the inaugural session, all held in Latin America or the Caribbean, Cuba was either not invited or turned down an invitation. More recently, however, his government has begun to participate, invited despite engaging in practices that other members of the region’s diplomatic bodies, such as the Organization of American States, have strongly condemned.

The US decision, which was not formally announced and will eventually be made by Biden, is already sparking criticism in the region.

In addition to Cuba expressing opposition to the move, officials in Mexico, a key US ally, said they were unhappy. In a phone call last Friday, President Andres Manuel López Obrador urged Biden to invite all the countries of the Western Hemisphere to the summit, “without excluding anyone”.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard held closed-door meetings with his US counterpart, Antony J. Blinken, in Washington on Tuesday. Ebrard later said at a press conference at the Mexican embassy that he had asked Blinken to reconsider the refusal of invitations to Cuba, as well as Nicaragua and Venezuela, which should be excluded. Ebrard said he left without a definitive answer.

On 11 April 2015, on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Panama, then President Obama met and shook hands with then Cuban President Raul Castro, the first contact between the leaders of the two countries in decades. Obama said at the time that he believed the two countries might be at odds in “the spirit of respect and civilization ”and that it was time to“ turn the page ”.

Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shake hands

Former President Obama and former Cuban President Raul Castro shake hands during a meeting at the Summit of the Americas in Panama in 2015.

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

In just a few months, the two have revived diplomatic relations between their countries, reopened various economic and trade deals, and Obama made a historic trip to Havana.

Trump canceled those actions, ending travel and freezing remittances and canceling diplomatic overtures. And Biden did not choose to restore Obama’s diplomatic approach.

For the Summit of the Americas, it is also unlikely that the United States will invite Nicaragua, where President Daniel Ortega conducted what the United States and many other democratic nations and groups call a sham election that gave him another mandate.

Other Venezuela is always the skunk at the picnic, with President Nicolas Maduro shunned at most international rallies. The question is whether Biden will invite Juan Guaidó, a Venezuelan opposition leader whom the US government has recognized as the country’s legitimate leader despite little effective domestic support.

Yet some questionable democracies will be invited due to overwhelming ties they have with the United States, Nichols and other officials said.

El Salvador, for example, has such long-lasting ties to the United States, dating back to the civil war of the 1980s – in which the Reagan administration supported the Salvadoran government and numerous US church and civil rights groups supported the opposition. – that the country should not be excluded, said Nichols.

“Obviously we have deep and longstanding ties with El Salvador and its millions of Salvadorans in the United States,” Nichols said, noting that the ties were particularly strong with Southern California.

“We have very substantial differences with the president [Nayib] Bukele on a number of issues, in particular related to democracy, separation of powers and transparency, [yet] I believe it will be important for El Salvador to participate, “Nichols said, referring to Bukele’s recent actions to erode the independence of the judiciary and silence dissent and journalists critical of his administration.

The summit will be a forum to discuss immigration, trade, climate change and ways to strengthen democracy, among other regional topics. Nichols said leaders in the region are likely to produce a “Los Angeles Declaration” on promoting “safe, humane and orderly migration” and ensuring that migrants “can be protected where they are and there are opportunities for them. to stay in place “.

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