CARIBBEAN | US doubles down, not disposed to allow Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua to regional summit in Los Angeles

CARIBBEAN | US doubles down, not disposed to allow Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua to regional summit in Los Angeles

MONTEGO BAY,  Jamaica, June 2, 2022 - The United States of America,  as host to this year’s Summit of the Americas, is adamant that it  will not grant permission to Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to attend next week’s Summit scheduled to be held in Los Angeles, California.

Despite this however, the United States Wednesday said it was still formulating the invitation list regarding the attendance at the Summit of the Americas to be held next week.

Juan Gonzalez, National Security Council Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere and a Special Assistant to President Joe Biden, along with Brian A. Nichols, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, fielded questions from reporters on the upcoming ninth Summit of the Americas that Washington said would focus on “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” for the hemisphere.

“We are still looking through the invitations, we are continuing to engage in conversations with different countries and once we make the final decision we will make an announcement, “said Gonzalez.

Several member states have threatened to boycott the hemispheric conference as the United States does not have the unilateral authority to determine what states should or should not attend the Summit.

One of the longest serving Caribbean Prime Ministers, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, noted that “There was an agreement on core principles regarding that the summit must be inclusive, no one must be excluded and that the president of the United States government doesn’t have the right to exclude anyone.”

In a letter to heads of government last week, Dr Gonsalves, suggested to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders that they “not to attend” next week’s Summit of the Americas unless Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua are invited.

Gonsalves said “the basic reasons” driving his conclusion, was that CARICOM leaders at their inter-sessional summit in Belize in March had “declared publicly that CARICOM will not attend the summit if Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were excluded and /or if  Mr Juan Guaidó was invited, preposterously, to represent Venezuela.

The Biden administration has publicly recognized Juan Guaidó, as the interim president of the South American country.

On Wednesday,  Gonzalez, told a press briefing by teleconference that the US considers itself a partner of countries of the region and respects different perspectives but reserves the right to decide who it invites into its country.

“Ultimately, it’s something that as host, we have the prerogative, and we’ll make our final decision, and we’ll announce that once a decision has been made,” Gonzalez asserted.

“Is it a distraction from the summit? I don’t think so. It’s hard to concentrate on something until it actually happens. We’re confident that the summit will be well attended ... . We’ll let the result speak for itself,” he added when pressed.

Mexico has protested Cuba’s exclusion and has insisted that the Miguel Díaz-Canel-headed government be invited.

Gonzalez said discussions have been had and will continue, but if Mexico boycotts the meeting, its relationship with the US is likely to remain positive.

At present it appears that despite Gonsalves' plea to CARICOM heads of government, several countries including Belize which is also the rotational chair of CARICOM and Jamaica are expected to attend the Summit.

“I realise it is a difficult decision, but our American friends have left us with no other credible, principled, and practical choice. We may yet persuade them to alter their posture,” Gonsalves wrote in his  five page missive to his colleagues.

Gonsalves told his colleague heads that he is “very aware that CARICOM governments' good relations with the USA are of paramount importance.

“However, are our relations too close, and our self-interests too tightly interconnected for there to be any lasting rapture, certainly not more than a temporary dissonance. Our friendship has to be grounded elementally in respect, and the truth be told, we have been profoundly disrespected and disregarded by our American friends on this matter.

“Certainly, they are pulling out all the stops to persuade us to accept their ignoble stance; it is not a genuine dialogue as to what is best for our Americas,” Gonsalves wrote in his letter to the regional leaders.

In an effort to address diversity concerns from the conference, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian A Nichols argued that “average people” are not focused on the invited countries of a summit.

“We’re coming together in an unprecedented way to talk about the issues of concern that affect people and their daily lives,” he said.

“Can they get access to healthcare? Can their kids get a good education? Do they have the economic opportunities that they need? Are they able to benefit from broadband Internet technology? What are we doing to mitigate the shocks caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? Do people have affordable, reliable access to food? What are we doing to reorient supply chains to make sure that the disruptions that we’ve seen for the past few years are not repeated?

“I think that’s what average people care about, and that’s what we’re focusing on,” said Nichols.

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