In a statement to CNN Monday, a senior Biden administration official said Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were not invited to the summit due to the “lack of democratic space and human rights conditions” in the countries.
The White House press secretary was more vocal later in the day.
“We don’t think tyrants should be invited. We don’t regret it and the president will stick to his principle,” Karen-Jean-Pierre told reporters after Lopez Obrador announced his boycott.
Lopez Obrador had previously threatened to boycott the summit, which is traditionally attended by leaders from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean and is held every few years.
“I will not go to the summit because not all American countries are invited and I think there is a need to change the policy that has been in place for centuries: exclusion, the desire to dominate without any reason, the lack of respect for the sovereignty of states (and) independence,” Lopez Obrador said at a press conference in Mexico City. every country.” He said the country’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, would attend instead.
The move is in great disdain for President Joe Biden and his administration and threatens to undermine the rally.
However, the White House insisted that Mexico’s absence would not prevent progress. Jean-Pierre said he expected 23 prime ministers to attend the meeting in Los Angeles.
Having announced that he will not attend this week’s summit, Lopez Obrador said Monday that he will visit the White House next month and hope to discuss the inclusion of all leaders of the Americas with Biden.
“We have had frank contacts with President Lopez Obrador as well as with other regional partners for more than a month regarding the issue of invitations to the summit,” said Jean-Pierre. “It is important to recognize that there is a range of opinions on this issue in our hemisphere, as in the United States. The president’s main position is that we do not believe tyrants should be invited.”
Lopez Obrador’s decision is the culmination of weeks of speculation about whether the Mexican leader will be able to persuade the Biden administration to invite Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
And while the White House was rushing to secure attendance for the summit, there was some frustration among officials that what was supposed to be a major event highlighting renewed US leadership in the region was overshadowed by the fighting over invitations.
Lopez Obrador’s boycott decision followed a coordinated effort by the United States to get him to hold him, including lengthy virtual meetings with former Democratic Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who serves as Biden’s special advisor to the summit.
During a phone call in April between Biden and Lopez Obrador, the topic was brought up again. In a statement, the White House said the men “look forward to meeting again at the June Summit of the Americas.”
But those efforts were not enough to convince the Mexican leader to attend.
In public, US officials have sought to downplay the importance of Lopez Obrador’s presence, insisting that the event could still be a success even with the absence of the leader of one of the largest countries in the Americas.
Officials also privately suggested that Lopez Obrador plays the local audience by refusing to attend. They said important agreements on migration, climate change and the economy were still being worked out.
However, the failed efforts to secure the presence of important leaders in the neighborhood of the United States speak of a more chaotic process than planned for organizing this week’s summit. Several officials said privately that the refusal of some leaders to attend was completely unexpected when the summit began last year.
Last week, the White House appeared to acknowledge that questions about attendees had listed some of the summit’s goals
“There are always questions about who’s coming and who won’t, but we also have to talk and focus on the purpose of this meeting,” White House Press Secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre said.
She shrugged off questions about why it all came together — or didn’t meet — at the last minute.
“I think if you’ve been following this administration for the last year and a half, one week is not the eleventh hour when it comes to how things are moving. And that’s the long way back for us as the White House,” he said.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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