Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeGlobalMeeting in Los Angeles: a tale of two summits

Meeting in Los Angeles: a tale of two summits

The United States a few days ago exceeded one million deaths from the pandemic. In Latin America, the figures in this regard border on 1.8 million. The Americas as a whole were Ground Zero of Covid-19, affected more than any other continent, if we are guided by official figures. So much so that ECLAC in 2020 pointed out that Latin America was going through its biggest crisis in 120 years.

At least one of the reasons for this was the complete lack of cooperation and coordination both among the Latin American countries and with the United States.

The icing on the cake were the budget cuts imposed by the United States on the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) at the end of 2019, on the eve of the outbreak of the pandemic, and its refusal to rescind them in mid-2020, with the pandemic booming.

One would think that after two and a half years of this crisis, something would have been learned, and that the way out of it would be to work together, among all the countries of the Western Hemisphere, and not follow the path of fomenting discord.

summit and split

However, the IX Summit of the Americas to be held in Los Angeles, California, from June 6 to 10, which would have been the perfect occasion for it, was seen as just the opposite: another opportunity to continue with the policies of divide and rule.

Knowing that Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela will not be invited, under the pretext that they are not democratic countries, they have been poorly received. Already the presidents of Mexico, Bolivia, and Honduras, as well as the leaders of the CARICOM countries, have said that under these conditions they would not go to Los Angeles. It would be a diplomatic debacle of proportions for the White House.

The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, demands that Cuba, Honduras and Venezuela participate in the Summit of the Americas. Photo: EFE

There is no shortage of those who say that the situation in these three countries, already identified during the Donald Trump administration as “the troika of tyranny”, is unpresentable, and that leaving them out is fine. The absolute priority, if not the only one, should be the defense of democracy and human rights.

Now, is this a universal principle that the United States upholds urbi et orbi? It happens not. A few days ago, the US-ASEAN Summit took place in Washington DC, with the participation of eight heads of state and government from the countries of Southeast Asia.

Among them, at least two communist countries, Vietnam and Laos, and several other fairly authoritarian ones. Did the United States object to the presence of these countries? No way. On the contrary: what there was was a red carpet treatment, with a banquet in the White House, meetings in Congress with Senators and Representatives, and a display of all the protocol and diplomatic seduction tools available.

internal pressures

Why is what is acceptable in Vietnam unacceptable in Cuba? Excluding Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela has nothing to do with certain principles of US foreign policy. respond only to efforts to appease internal pressure groups in the country, especially in Florida.

It is the same reason why President Joe Biden’s policy towards Latin America has roughly followed the same guidelines as that of President Donald Trump, in immigration, in trade, in relations with Cuba, Haiti and Venezuela.

Why does the US treat ASEAN differently than Latin America? Because ASEAN acts jointly, which makes it a valid interlocutor with great projection.

Its summits are attended by the main world leaders. Latin America, on the other hand, is increasingly fragmented, so it counts less and less in the international system, and is treated accordingly. There is a lesson there, for all those who want to see it.

Jorge Heine is Professor of International Relations at Boston University. Former minister and ambassador of Chile in China.

Recent posts