Botched Summit of Americas: US Hegemony No Longer Accepted in Latin America, Brazilian Scholar Says
21:30 GMT 25.05.2022 (Updated: 21:32 GMT 25.05.2022)
So far, the ninth Summit of Americas, to be held in Los Angeles in early June, is threatening to end up in President Joe Biden's humiliation after Washington excluded Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua from the upcoming event.
"Mexican President López Obrador has increased the risk of embarrassing Biden
, who will be the host of the meeting in Los Angeles, as he has already announced that his country will not participate in the summit with the absence of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua," says Gustavo Guerreiro, executive editor of the journal World Tensions and a member of the Brazilian Centre for Solidarity with Peoples and Struggle for Peace (CEBRAPAZ). "The likely boycott of the summit denotes the collapse of US hegemony over Latin America."
The ninth Summit of the Americas (SOA) is due to take place on 6-10 June 2022 in Los Angeles, California. It will be convened in the US for the first time since its 1994 inaugural session in Miami. However, after it became clear that leftist states Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua would not be included, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signaled that he would skip the summit. Bolivian President Luis Arce followed in Obrador's footsteps, saying that he may also boycott the event if the heads of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were not invited.
Honduran President Xiomara Castro de Zelaya stated on Twitter that "if not all nations are present, it's not a Summit of the Americas." For his part, Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez said that he would participate in the meeting but cited deep concerns about excluding nations.
Meanwhile, Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei said last Tuesday that he would not attend after Washington barred Maria Consuelo Porras, the country's top prosecutor, and her family.
"Giammattei said he would not participate in the Americas summit after the US criticized the appointment of Guatemala Attorney General, Consuelo Porras, for another four years," says Guerreiro. "This is yet another case of the US interference in the internal affairs of another country. President Giammattei said that although his country is small, his sovereignty must be respected."
To complicate matters even further, it is not clear whether Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian president, will go to the City of Angels to participate in the upcoming event.
"Brazil is not only the largest territorial country in Latin America but the most populous and the largest economy, configuring itself as a regional leader," says the Brazilian scholar. "The absence of Brazil in a summit of this dimension will be quite notable. Bolsonaro knows that."
While Bolsonaro by no means belongs to the club of left-leaning governments, he has his own reasons to snub the event, according to Guerreiro. Bolsonaro has been at odds with the Biden administration since Joe assumed office, as the Brazilian leader used to support Donald Trump.
Recently, Bolsonaro showed irritation with claims made by the Reuters news agency that the director of the CIA, William Burns, had urged the Brazilian leadership to stop doubting Brazil’s voting system. It was previously reported that Bolsonaro had raised doubts over the reliability of Brazil’s electronic voting system, apparently fearing losing to his leftist rival, the former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In early May, da Silva officially launched his campaign for the presidential election
Guerreiro does not rule out that Bolsonaro may agree to go to the summit in exchange for some sort of backing from the Biden administration in the Brazilian elections scheduled for 2 October 2022.
"Despite the uncertainties, the Brazilian government evaluates a document suggested by the United States, which emphasizes the 'defense of democracy and free elections.' The idea is that it will be presented as a joint statement from all countries that make up the summit of the Americas," the scholar says, adding that this appears to be a "smokescreen." "The US has repeatedly demonstrated that they have no appreciation for Latin American democracies. This legacy is even more prominent with the governments of 'the US Democratic Party'."
US Lost Control in Latin America
Meanwhile, the US is scrambling to avoid a boycott. On 19 May, US special adviser, former Senator Chris Dodd, tried to persuade the Mexican president to visit the SOA summit. The same day, the Biden administration pointed the finger of blame at Cuba for "fuelling controversy over its possible exclusion" from the summit to portray the US as a "bad guy."
"It is not justified at all," Guerreiro highlights. "On the contrary, Washington insists on maintaining a criminal embargo, which imposes seemingly endless draconian economic and political sanctions, which mainly penalise the population of Cuba. Cuba has every right to manifest against any form of isolation that hegemonic power imposes on him."
On 23 May, the US signaled that it was looking for ways to represent the people of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua in the upcoming SOA: "We are still evaluating options on how to best incorporate the voices of the Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan people into the summit process," a US state department official said.
However, Guerreiro forecasts that these attempts are likely to be opposed by a bipartisan coalition of American politicians: "One of those in the campaign against Cuba's participation is Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Cuban-American Democrat who heads the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee," he says.
The scholar notes that the controversy surrounding the summit shows deep changes in Washington's traditional perception of Latin America as its backyard. "The US no longer governs the region," he says.
At the same time, the US is at pains to maintain the crumbling status quo and has difficulties in establishing working relations with left-wing democratic governments of Latin America, according to the scholar.
"The US remains a great world power and will probably continue to be," Guerreiro says. "However, they can no longer command Latin America as before. Of course, there are differences between some leaders, this is natural. However, the US command is no longer accepted and there is awareness that Latin American countries are capable of forming a bloc of common interests."