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The U.S. foreign policy is outdated and counterproductive, especially now that China has become an attractive alternative partner for many Latin American countries.
From June 6 to 10, the most important intergovernmental conference of the continent, the Summit of the Americas, will be hosted in Los Angeles. It is held every three years. The leaders of the region will discuss and work on an agenda they will follow up in the years to come until the next meeting. However, the 9th Summit has started off on the wrong foot.
The initial move of the Biden administration to exclude Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua from the Summit due to their “lack of democratic space and the human rights situations” has created controversy in many of the summoned countries, which sent second level delegations to Los Angeles.
The most visible criticism has been launched by Mexico, once viewed as the key ally of the U.S. in the Americas. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been very direct in his response to Biden´s decision.
“There can’t be a Summit of the Americas when not all countries of the American continent are taking part,” he stated and send his Foreign Affairs Minister to attend the Los Angeles meeting.
Mexico set a precedent that others have followed. At the U.S.-convened summit, for example, Presidents Luis Arce (Bolivia) and Xiomara Castro (Honduras) will not be present. Moreover, it is not clear yet what the Caribbean countries will decide to do.
As at June 7, only 7 of the 15 members committed to attend, whereas St. Vincent & the Grenadine Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves announced his country will not attend the Los Angeles meeting. However, even those who are expected to attend the Summit, such as the Chilean President, Gabriel Boric, have deemed the exclusion of certain countries as an “error.”
Biden's clumsy actions might have a boomerang effect. If his initial intention was to isolate Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, then the United States may need to be worried about not ending up isolating itself from other countries.
The U.S. conduct under the reasoning of the Cold War scenarios is outdated and counterproductive, especially now that China has become an attractive alternative partner for many Latin American countries. In fact, China is already the first trading partner of Peru, Chile and Brazil, and the tendency is to expand its grip on the region.
The previous Summit of the Americas was held in Lima in 2019 when Donald Trump neglected to show up, which was perceived as a subtle boycott by his administration to disassociate himself from Latin America.
As a result of that maneuver, just 17 out of 35 heads of State attended the Lima meeting. Until the Los Angeles summit does not end, we might not be able to assess if the aims at stake have been fulfilled, although the controversy illustrates that U.S. neighbors are not as docile as they use to be.
In summary, the Biden administration's errors in the organization of the 2022 Summit of the Americas demonstrate a very poor understanding of the current situation of the region and are accelerating the displacement of the U.S. as the leading power in the Americas. Washington appears to be losing its backyard.