Criticism of Biden for inviting left-leaning heads of state to America summit
Headwind for host Joe Biden at the America Summit in Los Angeles: The decision not to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to the meeting hit the US President on Thursday
Headwind for host Joe Biden at the America Summit in Los Angeles: The decision not to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to the meeting brought sharp criticism to the US President on Thursday. “As the host of the summit, you do not have the right to decide on the participation of countries from the continent,” said Argentine President Alberto Fernández. Biden’s first meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was less conflictual.
Fernández said dialogue is the best way to promote democracy, with a view to the uninviting of the left-wing heads of state from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Belize Prime Minister John Briceño called Biden’s behavior “inexcusable”. He called the US embargo against Cuba, which has been in force for 60 years, a “crime against humanity”.
The US President, on the other hand, emphasized the broad consensus of the summit participants on issues such as migration and climate protection. “Notwithstanding some disagreements regarding attendance, I heard almost unity and consistency on the substantive issues,” Biden said.
Beforehand, he had described the America summit as an opportunity to strengthen his country’s position in Central and South America. However, the dispute over the participation of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela overshadowed the meeting. “We do not believe that dictators should be invited,” Biden spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre justified the decision. Out of anger at the non-invitation of the three countries, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador canceled his participation in the Los Angeles meeting.
In the case of Venezuela, the US protest was directed at left-wing leader Nicolás Maduro, while Biden pledged his continued support to opposition leader Juan Guaidó, recognized by Washington as interim president, after the country was uninvited.
At his first meeting with Brazil’s far-right head of state, Bolsonaro, Biden tried to avoid disputes between the two countries. In Los Angeles on Thursday, the US President described Brazil as a “vibrant” democracy with “solid” institutions. Bolsonaro said he has “a lot in common” with the US President. So they are both “democrats” who care about “freedom”.
The two heads of state also avoided any confrontation on sensitive issues such as elections and the protection of the Amazon region. However, at the joint press event before the meeting, they did not shake hands and hardly exchanged a glance.
Biden also hailed the “sacrifices” Brazil is making to protect the Amazon rainforest. Bolsonaro doubts human responsibility for climate change and is repeatedly criticized for his environmental policies.
The relationship between the two heads of state is known to be fraught with tension. Just a few days ago, Bolsonaro had expressed doubts about the correctness of Biden’s election as president. For its part, the US government has openly criticized Bolsonaro’s attacks on Brazil’s electoral system.
Biden is trying to improve relations with countries further south. These relationships had suffered greatly under his predecessor Donald Trump. On Friday he wants to conclude the summit in Los Angeles with a statement on the sensitive issue of migration.
The United States and eight other Pacific Rim countries formed a “coalition to protect the oceans” on Thursday. “The oceans (…) play a crucial role in the effects of climate change,” said Chilean President Gabriel Boric, whose country initiated the agreement, at the signing of the agreement on the sidelines of the Americas summit. The plan is to set up marine protected areas from Canada to Chile.
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