- The Washington Times - Monday, June 6, 2022

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday he will not attend the Summit of Americas in California this week because certain Western Hemisphere countries, led by communists or socialists, were excluded.

Mr. Lopez Obrador said during his daily press conference that he would send Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard in his place. Honduras also announced it will send a lower-level delegation.

The boycott will be seen as a swipe at President Biden, who is hosting the event and decided against inviting Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela because of their poor records on human rights and democracy.

“The president’s principled position is that we do not believe dictators should be invited,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Ms. Jean-Pierre tried to patch over the public rift with a U.S. neighbor, saying Mexico is sending dignitaries to the summit and Mr. Lopez Obrador and his wife will come to the White House in July for bilateral meetings.

She also said Mr. Biden’s role on this side of the world remains in good standing.

“The U.S. remains the most powerful force in driving hemispheric actions to address core challenges facing the people of the Americas — inequality, health, climate and food security,” she said. “The president continues to be a leader in the hemisphere.”

The summit will be held in Los Angeles this week. The White House has said Mr. Biden, who will travel Wednesday to Los Angeles, will use the event to push for a more “secure, middle class and democratic” region.

However, some critics said excluding nations will make it more difficult to solve regional problems.

Mr. Lopez Obrador had signaled for weeks that he might skip the event, which is held every three years, if some countries were excluded. Ms. Jean-Pierre said Mr. Biden was aware of Mr. Lopez Obrador’s decision before he announced it Monday.

Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chided Mr. Lopez Obrador and said his absence could “set back efforts to continue repairing the relationship” between Mexico and the U.S., which the senator characterized as broken by former President Donald Trump.

Mr. Menendez said he supported Mr. Biden’s decision to set limits on who may attend the summit.

“The summit is an opportunity for democracies — not authoritarian thugs — from across the hemisphere to forge an agenda that advances our shared prosperity and democratic values,” he said. “From the beginning of his administration, President Biden made clear he would focus on restoring U.S. credibility and leadership in the worldwide campaign to strengthen democratic governments and counter authoritarian forces.”

China sought to take advantage of divisions across the globe. The communist government in Beijing said Monday that the U.S. is losing its grip on the region.

“I want to stress again that Latin America is not some front yard or backyard of the U.S. The ‘Summit of the Americas’ is not the ‘Summit of America,’” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at his regular press conference. “The U.S., as the host of the upcoming summit, needs to stop going its own way or forcing its will on others. It should instead show due respect for Latin American and Caribbean countries and listen with humility to the legitimate concerns and voices for justice of the majority of regional countries.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide