President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has received an official invitation to participate in the Summit of the Americas, which will begin in Los Angeles next Friday. But he has not yet decided, at least publicly, what he will do. Perhaps today, although he did not say so, he will announce whether he will participate or not, depending on the assessment of “a series of factors” on the basis that unless Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela are invited, he will attend. López Obrador was left waiting for President Joe Biden’s response to his demand and was crushed by US diplomacy. His final decision will show us whether he understands that to play in the big leagues you have to know them, or if he turns to his advisers drawing monkeys or scribes, and makes a new fit of tantrum.
Lopez Obrador received immediate success last week that enabled him, after publicly declaring his position, the day after returning from Cuba, Biden eased economic sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela and dispatched Christopher Dodd, the summit’s special advisor, to Mexico. He said he finally did not arrive because he had COVID-19, and that was not an impediment for him to travel to Brazil to invite President Jair Bolsonaro. Dowd assured him that on the same Wednesday they spoke on Zoom, or the next day, he would have Biden’s response. The president’s message never got through, but it did come from his government.
From the start, they lowered the level of their dialogue. Biden has not spoken to him, nor Vice President Kamala Harris, Ambassador Plenipotentiary John Kerry, or Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who has a direct conversation with Lopez Obrador. With whom to speak and who will receive answers from Washington, it will be the ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, confirmed last Friday by the White House National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan. Thus, Biden lowered the level of dialogue and closed the window in the White House, opening at Reforma 305.
Lopez Obrador barely received an official invitation yesterday, which was dated June 21 – according to the president – and frankly justified the delay in the mail. These communications go not through the postal service, but in the diplomatic pouch, but they should not have considered giving it to him an urgent matter or they also caused delays until the diplomatic strategy of the summit had finished accommodating.
While Lopez Obrador continued his strategy based on morning speech, the White House acted. Thirteen of the 14 Caribbean States in the Caribbean Community that had expressed doubts about participation confirmed the exclusion of those three States. Bolsonaro, after speaking with Dodd as well. To keep Lopez Obrador’s attention occupied, and toying with his ego, as one might imagine, they leaked for several days how they could invite representatives of those three nations, in response to the Mexican position.
The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, hasn’t waited, and since last week he’s said he’s not going – anyway, there’s an arrest warrant for him, so maybe he can enter the US, but maybe not leave. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel could not stand the ambiguity and announced Wednesday his support for Nicaragua. Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, hinted on Wednesday that he would not attend either – his legal status in the United States is similar to that of Ortega. Yesterday, the United States endorsed what it has been expecting since the summit was held: At least two of these dictators will not be invited.
At a hearing at the Senate Subcommittee on Latin American Affairs, the summit coordinator, Kevin O’Reilly, stated that Maduro had not been invited, because “we do not recognize him as a sovereign government,” which they did with Juan Guaido as head of the Venezuelan executive branch. Soon after, a State Department official confirmed to Reuters news agency that the White House had not invited Maduro or Ortega, although it was still being evaluated whether to extend any kind of invitation to Cuba.
The current definition of who and who will not sit at the summit table has left President López Obrador in a quandary, in which he fell for the lightness of his speech and the naivety and impotence of those who put him in this trap. . Lopez Obrador knew – unless Secretary of State Marcelo Ebrard hid him – that the United States would not invite these three countries, since Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made an exception for them at the 52nd Annual Conference of the Americas because “like every government participating as you know at the Summit, we cannot underestimate the democratic character of the region.
Lopez Obrador never asked to invite the presidents, but instead spoke about countries, adding that it would depend on them whether or not they attended the summit. Diaz-Canel, with whom he has a relationship of friendship and admiration, gave him a political outlet by announcing that he would not attend. Ortega, who does not criticize him despite the suppression and violation of human rights in Nicaragua, has already lifted his weight off his shoulders. Maduro is the one who’s still hanging on, but he’s also on the cusp of declaring his own veto at the top.
Lopez Obrador’s initial position shrinks before US diplomacy. Bolsonaro is the most important record reached, as Brazil is the main power in Latin America. Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernandez, a staunch ally of Lopez Obrador, has distanced himself and, even with some reservations, will travel to Los Angeles. Honduran President Chiomara Castro, who initially joined Lopez Obrador, is no longer sure she will follow as she reconsiders participating in the summit.
Lopez Obrador was left alone. His public pressure on Biden failed and he had to cut his losses by participating in the summit, justifying his presence in Los Angeles by rejecting Diaz-Canel and Ortega. His absolute position led him to a dilemma. Now is the time to let go of the tantrum and act pragmatically.
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