"I can inform the people of Mexico that I will not go to the summit," Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Monday of the Summit of the Americas that the US is hosting in Los Angeles. "I won’t go to the summit because not all countries in the Americas are invited."
Axios has described it as "a blow to President Biden, who is seeking to reassert U.S. influence in Latin America and the Caribbean, which have become more closely tied to China in recent years." The summit kicked off Monday, and will go through this Friday. Biden wanted to use it as a show of 'unity' under regional US leadership, but with the Mexican leader's glaring absence, it's clearly anything but.
There's been fierce debate over the list of invitees for weeks, but the exclusion of leaders from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela - all leftist-governed nations known for running afoul of US foreign policy - was the final straw for Mexico.
"There cannot be a summit if all countries are not invited," López Obrador told a press conference. He said Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard will go in his place. "Or there can be one, but that is to continue with all politics of interventionism," he added, also underscoring that Biden is "not respecting these countries’ sovereignty, their independence" in not inviting them.
Joining Mexico's criticism of the summit were Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Antigua and Barbuda - who have affirmed their leaders will not be in attendance at the summit.
Such resistance from as important a country and economy as Mexico for a regional summit is proving an embarrassment for the White House, given that a prime foreign policy theme of Biden's has been cooperation among countries to counter Russia and China. Yet particularly Venezuela and Cuba are seen as within especially Russia's sphere of influence.
Last month the Mexican president stressed that everyone must be invited" to the summit in order to promote and ensure "the unity of all America."
This is huge: The US government's Summit of the Americas begins today in Los Angeles, California.— Benjamin Norton (@BenjaminNorton) June 6, 2022
Mexico's President López Obrador (AMLO) has officially confirmed that he is not attending, to protest the US refusal to invite Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaraguahttps://t.co/Pz6t4SwaTa
This also as he's planning to personally press Biden on the matter in an potential upcoming White House visit:
López Obrador said he hopes to visit the White House in July to talk to Biden about the "integration" of all American countries, with the goal of forming something similar to the European Union.
Amid the Russian war in Ukraine and resulting strain on global energy, the Biden administration has sought to bring Nicolás Maduro's Venezuela "in from the cold" as it tries to tap 'alternate' sources of oil.
The White House was asked how they reconcile not inviting Cuba, Nicaragua & Venezuela to the Summit of the Americas because "we don’t believe dictators should be invited" while simultaneously planning a trip for President Biden to Saudi Arabia, which he vowed to make a pariah.— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 6, 2022
Because of this there was hope among Caracas supporters that Venezuela would be invited to the Summit of Americas, but that prospect has proven premature.