Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Summit of the Americas deals diplomatic blow as Mexico’s president declines to attend

As the high-profile Summit of the Americas got underway Monday in Los Angeles, with presidents and prime ministers from throughout the Western Hemisphere expected to attend, confusion continued to surround the agenda, what President Biden hopes to achieve and whether U.S.-Latin American relations will be better or worse as a result. After weeks of coy, maybe-maybe-not flirtation with attending the conference, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, arguably the most important Latin American leader on the guest list, finally announced Monday morning that he was staying home. López Obrador was protesting the Biden administration’s decision to exclude Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, and others followed suit: Honduras, the administration’s closest ally in Central America, sent a lower-level delegation, Uruguay’s president said he had contracted COVID-19, and Bolivia also declined to attend. (https://news.yahoo.com/summit-americas-hobbles-opening-mexicos-021247907.html) Even veteran Latin American specialists who have attended several of the regional conferences over the past three decades were exasperated, noting that the Biden administration only belatedly turned to the summit and potential agenda, along with its opportunity for progress and brighter relations in the hemisphere. Some suggested the summit was so behind the ball in planning that it would have been better to cancel than to conduct the conference in a half-baked way.

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