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In blow to Biden, Mexico president to skip Americas Summit

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has confirmed that he will skip the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, dealing a blow to the United States’ (US) efforts to rally governments to work together to address surging migration in the hemisphere.

López Obrador had been leading a chorus of mostly leftist leaders pushing the US to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to the gathering taking place on US soil for the first time since 1994.

Other leaders, including from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – three big drivers of migration to the US – have indicated they’ll stay away too.

“There cannot be an Americas Summit if not all of the continent’s countries participate,” López Obrador said on Monday, indicating that Mexico would instead be represented by his foreign affairs secretary Marcelo Ebrard, “Or there can be one, but that is to continue with the old politics of interventionism”.

The White House defended its decision to exclude certain countries, while also confirming López Obrador will visit Washington in July to meet with Biden. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said there was “candid engagement” with the Mexican leader about the summit.
“We do not believe that dictators should be invited,” Jean-Pierre said.

With so many no-shows, critics said the event risks turning into an embarrassment for US President Joe Biden, who has struggled to reassert US leadership in a region where mistrust of the US runs deep and China has been made major inroads the past two decades as the US foreign policy has been dominated by wars in the Middle East and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Even some leaders who are attending drew differences with the US.

“In respect to Cuba we have always been there to support and defend human rights,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in Ottawa at a news conference with visiting Chilean President Gabriel Boric. “We’ve also pushed for greater democracy. Canada has always had a different position on Cuba than the US.”

Chilean President Boric, a 36-year-old leftist millennial, said attendees will have an opportunity to make statements if the US intends to exclude countries.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference. PHOTO: AFP