Blame Game Begins As Biden’s Summit of the Americas Stumbles Towards ‘Summit Without Americas’
© AFP 2022 / CHIP SOMODEVILLAANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND - MAY 27: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the commencement address during the graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy Memorial Stadium on May 27, 2022 in Annapolis, Maryland. A total of 1,100 sailors and Marines graduated from the service academy.
As the US-sponsored Summit of the Americas appears increasingly irrelevant, a key anti-imperialist organizer behind the alternative ‘People’s Summit of the Americas’ says the Biden administration has no one to blame but itself.
The 9th Summit of the Americas hasn’t even started, but efforts to pin the blame for the meeting’s anticipated failures have already begun in earnest. While President Biden’s top Latin America advisor, Juan Gonzalez, continues to insist publicly that the US is “really confident that the summit” slated for June 6th - 10th “will be well-attended,” promises by a number of Latin American heads of state to skip the gathering suggest otherwise.
Last month, Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador publicly objected to the US refusal to include the governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba, and pledged to skip the event unless the decision was reversed. A number of the region’s nations followed suit, and now Bolivian President Luis Arce, Honduran President Xiomara Castro, St. Vincents and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, all appear likely to be no-shows.
Many other leaders, including Chile’s Gabriel Boric and Argentina’s Alberto Fernandez, have said they’ll be in attendance but condemned the ostracism of their neighbors. According to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, “almost 90% of the governments of the continent have had the courage, in different ways, to express their protest against the exclusion.” On May 26th, 15 members of US Congress publicly called on Biden to “reconsider the omission of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to this year’s Summit of the Americas.”
On Sunday, the editorial board of the Washington Post–a relatively reliable barometer of the US foreign policy –pointed the finger at the region as a whole for purported fractures in regional unity, claiming “it’s hard to get the Americas together” since “the Americas are coming apart” and suggesting that “the lingering influence of Cuba’s regime” bears much of the responsibility.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered a different perspective. In comments to Venezuela’s Radio del Sur, the country’s commander-in-chief explained that by not inviting countries it disagrees with politically, “the US government itself took it upon itself” to sabotage “the possibility of success at this summit.” And he’s certainly not the only one to view the divisions bubbling over into public view as the handiwork of the host country.
“The exclusion of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, already have made Biden’s summit a failed summit,” said Manolo de los Santos, Co-Coordinator of the People's Summit of the Americas, an alternative to Biden’s gathering that’s slated to take place in Los Angeles concurrently, and which is billed as “a coming together of social movements, trade unions, community organizations, social justice groups from… across the Americas.”
De Los Santos told Sputnik News that Biden’s “intention of making it a summit only for his friends, for those who agree fully with him and align with his policies,” means that “most of Latin America is not included,” and “not just the formally excluded countries.”
That’s why De Los Santos says he’s working “not just to offer an alternative vision, but to confront the narrative of US foreign policy that continues to see Latin America simply as its backyard–or as Biden calls it, its 'front yard,'” but to show that “there’s actually something bigger stronger and that’s coming together not just from Latin America but in unity with the progressive forces inside the United States.”
In an ironic twist, it’s likely that the most visible unity on display in Los Angeles in the coming days will be outside the Convention Center where numerous Latin American leaders will be absent.
According to De Los Santos, Citlalli Hernandez, the Secretary General of Mexican President Lopez Obrador’s Morena Party, and influential figures from the Landless Workers Movement, the party of leading Brazilian presidential candidate Lula da Silva, will be in Los Angeles–but they’ll be addressing the People’s Summit, instead of the State Department-organized meeting inside.
“That’s why this people’s summit is so important,” De Los Santos says: “because it offers a direct challenge to these designs of the US government to not only exclude but to impose itself on the Latin American region.” In this sense, “it’s an expression of all the changes and movements that are happening as we speak across the continent, not just for a better life but for the actual transformation of society.”