The participation of Latin American countries in a high-profile regional summit is still in flux, just weeks from when it’s scheduled to take place in California amid record migration throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The so-called Summit of the Americas is set to be hosted by the United States in early June, marking the ninth meeting of countries in the region and the first time the US has hosted the gathering since 1994.
But the lead up has already been embroiled in controversy over the guest list, forcing US officials to try to smooth over relations and throwing into question the outcome of the meeting at a critical time in the hemisphere.
Earlier this month, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Mexico’s participation will not be confirmed until the US invites every country in the hemisphere, arguing that no country should be excluded from the summit. US officials have repeatedly said the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela will not be invited to the summit due to their human rights records.
But in recent days, the administration has reversed some Trump policies related to Cuba and eased some energy sanctions on Venezuela, signaling the importance of attendance at the summit – and the importance of avoiding an embarrassing boycott by key countries at a tough political moment for President Joe Biden.
“We are in dialogue, with the purpose of inviting everyone,” López Obrador said at a news conference Monday. “At least, they (United States) have acted in a respectful manner, there has not been a total, cutting rejection.”
“There are still days to go, I hope that this week we will be able to inform, so as not to be speculating, or with conjectures, leaks; once we have all the elements, we are going to establish our position here,” Lopez Obrador added.
An administration official told CNN the Biden administration is evaluating options on incorporating “the voices of the Cuban, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan people into the Summit process.”
If López Obrador skips the gathering and others follow, it would be a snub to the Biden administration, which has stressed relationships with Latin America and has sought to strengthen ties as China makes inroads in the region.
Last week, the US and Mexico held talks about options specific to Mexico for attending the summit, according to a source familiar with the discussions. Talks are ongoing and a decision has not yet been made, the source said.