The Summit of the Americas – wise heads should prevail

Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the OAS, Sir Ron Sanders

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By Sir Ronald Sanders  

(The author is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the USA of America and the Organisation of American States.   He’s additionally a Senior Fellow on the Institute of Commonwealth Research, College of London and Massey Faculty within the College of Toronto)  

The Summit of the Americas, scheduled to be held in Los Angeles from June 8 to 10, needs to be regarded by all of the Heads of Authorities, as a golden alternative to handle the numerous challenges now confronting the hemisphere.

Certainly, the affect of the current world atmosphere on the economies, well being and folks of the world, is crying out for collective consideration on the highest ranges.  Of crucial significance are: the menace to world peace and stability, posed by Russia’s navy aggression in Ukraine; the financial affect of the battle in Ukraine and the ensuing sanctions on Russia which have disrupted the worldwide provide of meals and oil, creating excessive prices and rising inflation; financial restoration from the disastrous results of the COVID-19 pandemic and planning for future pandemics; the urgency for motion to halt Local weather Change that is still as a dagger on the coronary heart of each hemispheric nation, significantly small island states; and the preservation of democracy, together with human, civil and political rights.

However the golden alternative is being misplaced.  The Summit is in peril of poor attendance.   Governments of a number of Latin American and Caribbean states regard an official US authorities assertion, made on April 27 by Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols, that Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela wouldn’t be invited, as exclusionary.  They have indicated a reluctance to attend if the three governments are snubbed.

Since Nichols’ assertion and the response by these governments, President Biden’s Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, mentioned on Might 10, that “We haven’t made a decision about who will be invited, and no invitations have been issued yet”.  This can be a sign that some re-thinking is being carried out within the White Home, and there might be modification of the plans that have been beforehand being pursued and to which Nichols offered perception. We should hope that’s the case.

However President Biden is below extreme home political strain to exclude Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela whereas he’s additionally being urged to ask Juan Guaidó because the “Interim President” of Venezuela.  The latter is a farce, began below the presidency of Donald Trump, that the Biden administration has continued though Guaidó has no management over something in Venezuela – a reality tacitly acknowledged by US authorities when, on March 7, they dispatched a high-level group to Caracas to discover the potential for the Nicolás Maduro authorities pumping extra oil to assist offset the consequences of sanctions on Russian oil gross sales.

Whereas Biden might be able to drop any plans for inviting Guaidó to the Summit, thus satisfying some governments which have steadfastly not acknowledged him as President of Venezuela, it will be troublesome within the current US political local weather for him to ask Cuba, Nicaragua and the Maduro Authorities even when he wished to.

The strain on President Biden is coming from quite a lot of sources, together with US commentators and extra significantly Congresspersons, akin to Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez who’ve adopted a tough line on the governments in Cuba and Venezuela.  There are as many Congressional  representatives from the Democratic Celebration as they’re from the Republican celebration who really feel the identical method.  One commentator has steered that Biden ought to inform those that recommend that they won’t attend the Summit, “If you want to side with these dictatorships instead of with their victims, you are welcome to stay at home.”

All this locations President Biden in a troublesome scenario.  Each he and his advisors are conscious that the Summit is a “Summit of the Americas”; it isn’t a US Summit.  The US is Chairing the Summit as a result of it requested to host it.  However does internet hosting the assembly give the Chair the fitting to disqualify attendance by different Heads of Authorities?  Additionally, clearly the US authorities – and plenty of different governments – are involved in regards to the violations of democratic ideas and practices and of human rights in some hemispheric states.   Therefore, does the Summit not current a possibility for a frank dialogue by all, together with the Governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, of those points?

It couldn’t have escaped those that need a totally inclusionary Summit to acknowledge that such a dialogue must occur.  The threat can be that it will dominate the Summit which might grow to be rancorous, and which might fail to cope with essential points that needs to be mentioned.  In different phrases, the Summit might be in peril of imploding, undertaking nothing however the creation of a really divided hemisphere.

All nations must think twice in regards to the instant and long-term impact of such a improvement as a result of there needs to be little doubt that almost all of nations in South and Central America, would aspect with the US. They will, in spite of everything, be very involved about their very own nationwide pursuits, together with commerce, transportation hyperlinks, funding, and improvement help.

At one level, consideration was being given by governments, together with some within the Caribbean, to attend the Summit, and to argue for the positions of Cuba and Maduro from inside the assembly.  There remains to be each purpose to take care of this place, thereby preserving the advantages of the Summit whereas placing ahead arguments for an enchancment within the relationship with the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.   Advancing vigorous arguments inside the Summit on behalf of Cuba and Venezuela needs to be higher than being absent from the desk and attaining nothing for anybody.

There is want for understanding by different governments of the difficulties confronted by President Biden ought to he invite the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, and a willingness, on the very least, by the President to not search to impose Juan Guaidó on elected leaders.

The Summit is a chance.  Clever heads ought to information the actions of all.

Responses and former commentaries:  

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