After weeks of debate about the participation of authoritarian heads of state at the America summit, US President Joe Biden opened the meeting with a plea for democratic values.
“Democracy is a hallmark of our region,” said Biden on Wednesday (local time) at the opening ceremony of the IX. Organization of American States (OAS) Summit in Los Angeles. “As we gather today, at a time when democracy is under attack around the world, we should unite and renew our belief that democracy is not only the defining feature of American history, but also an integral part of the future Americas.”
Authoritarian states not invited
The US government did not invite the presidents of the authoritarian states of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to the summit. As a result, several left-wing heads of government such as Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Bolivia’s Head of State Luis Arce and Honduran President Xiomara Castro declared their solidarity with the politicians who had not been invited and canceled their participation. The heads of state and government from El Salvador, Guatemala, Uruguay and two small Caribbean countries also did not come to the meeting for various reasons.
“We don’t always agree on everything. But because we are democracies, we resolve our differences with mutual respect and dialogue,” Biden said. “At this summit we have the opportunity to come together and show people with bold ideas and ambitious actions that the incredible power of democracies brings concrete benefits and makes life better for everyone.”
New impetus for relationships
Biden wants to use the meeting, which lasts until Friday, to give new impetus to relations between North, Central and South America. A number of initiatives on migration, energy and climate change are to be launched at the summit. Among other things, the USA has already announced that 500,000 doctors and nurses will be trained in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, the supply chains in the region are to be strengthened, investments simplified and jobs created in the field of renewable energies via an “American Partnership for Economic Prosperity”.
Joint statement on migration planned
The US government also wants to present a joint statement on migration on Friday. In addition, the countries in Latin America should also be obliged to slow down illegal migration to the USA. “The declaration represents a mutual commitment to invest in regional solutions and increase opportunities for safe and orderly migration in the region,” Biden said. “At the same time, we must take action against criminals and human traffickers who take advantage of desperate people. Safe and orderly migration is good for all of our economies, including the United States.”
However, the boycott of the presidents of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Salvador and the uninviting of the Venezuelan head of state Nicolás Maduro from the Los Angeles summit could rob the ambitious migration plan of its clout. The majority of people who leave their homes because of violence and poverty and hope for a better life in the USA come from these countries of all places. Only on Monday did thousands of refugees head north from southern Mexico.
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