Latin American Leaders to Skip Summit of the Americas If Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua Uninvited

May 12, 2022
6:03 PM

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

Several Latin American leaders have signaled they will not attend this year’s 9th Summit of the Americas if all countries in the region are not invited.

Despite Secretary of State Anthony Blinken saying at a May 3 luncheon that the United States “should avoid falling into blocks of left and right,” the Biden administration does not intend to invite Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela to the conference to be held in Los Angeles from June 6th through the 10th.

“I believe the president has been perfectly clear that … countries that, by their own actions, do not respect democracy, are not going to receive invitations,” Brian A. Nichols, assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, said on Colombian TV last week.

Sec. Blinken also stated that the goal of the summit was to set the terms of “trade and investment in ways that benefit all citizens, not just those at the very top,” but it’s clear that the focus will be centered on migration to the U.S.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or “AMLO,” as he is popularly referred to, said he wouldn’t be attending the summit if every Latin American leader isn’t invited. “Nobody should exclude anyone,” AMLO said during a recent visit to Cuba.

The Mexican President has been pushing the United States to end its embargo on the island nation.


“We are looking for unity of all of America, and we feel there shouldn’t be confrontation, that even with our differences we have to have dialogue and be brotherly,” he said. “We’re trying to resolve this matter. We have a very good relationship with President Biden’s government, and we want everyone to be invited.”

While AMLO plans to snub the Biden administration by not personally attending, he stated that Mexico will still be represented at the summit by Exterior Relations Sec. Marcelo Ebrard, saying, “If [Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela] are excluded, if not all are invited, a representative from the Mexican government would go, but I wouldn’t.”

Similarly, the president of Bolivia, Luis Arce, announced on Tuesday that he too intends to skip next month’s summit.


“Consistent with the principles and values of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, I reaffirm that a Summit of the Americas that excludes American countries will not be a full Summit of the Americas, and if the exclusion of sister nations persists, I will not participate in it,” Arce said.


“Bolivia bases its international relations on the Diplomacy of the Peoples, with inclusion, solidarity, complementarity, respect for sovereignty, self-determination, and collective construction of the Culture of Dialogue and Peace,” the Bolivian President added.

Additionally, several member nations in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have also stated that they intend to forgo the summit if all American nations aren’t invited. Of particular concern for the bloc of countries —in addition to not inviting Cuba— is U.S. insistence on recognizing Juan Guaidó as the president of Venezuela.

CARICOM is meeting in Guyana in late May to make a collective decision on the matter.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is also expected to miss the summit, making the leaders of Latin America’s two biggest economies absent, and thus undermining the validity of a gathering that is meant to showcase democracy and diplomacy in the region. Unlike the other heads of state expected to miss the meeting, Bolsonaro is a far-right leader, often described as the “Tropical Trump.”


While Bolsonaro’s reasons for skipping the summit are unclear, he has yet to speak with Biden since the latter became president. As an avid supporter of former President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro was slow to acknowledge Biden’s election victory and has since made no effort to normalize relations with the new U.S. president, and since Bolsonaro’s decision to forgo the conference, talks to arrange a meeting between the two leaders have stalled.

After having been excluded from the triennial event since the first one was held in 1994, Cuba, which was invited to the summit for the first time in 2015 under former President Barack Obama, has charged that the United States is placing “extreme pressure” on Latin American governments to ban it from the summit.

Many leaders in Latin America feel spurned by President Trump’s absence at the meeting in 2018 and the Biden administration’s continued implementation of Trump-era policies toward the region.


Arturo Domínquez is a first-generation Cuban American father of three young men, an anti-racist, journalist, and publisher of The Antagonist Magazine. If you’d like to learn more about the issues covered here, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also support his work here and here.