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US, China, Latin America, and the summit of the Americas

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The US announced its decision to not invite Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba to the summit on the account of being authoritarian and/or autocratic regime.

By Dr Aparaajita Pandey

The Summit of the Americas began as a summit for all democratically elected heads of state of the Americas in 1994 during the Clinton regime. The Summit takes place every three years; however, the pandemic threw it off its schedule. The last summit took place in Peru in April, 2018. As the US gears up for the latest installment of the Summit in Los Angeles in June, there is already speculation about being a spectacular failure. The election of Biden as the head of State for the US was seen as an opportunity for the country to repair the aberration in its relations with the rest of the world during the Trump regime. This was especially true for Latin America as Biden has a long history of being involved with the politics of Latin America as well as building personal relationships with Latin American leaders since the early days of their political careers. Biden had also visited the region about 16 times before he became the President.

One of his first acts as the President was to announce an aid package for Central America worth a billion dollars spread over four years. However, the politics of the region and their perception of the US. The US announced its decision to not invite Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba to the summit on the account of being authoritarian and/or autocratic regime. This is a continuation of the narrative of the ‘troika of tyranny’; a term first used by the former National Security Advisor, John Bolton in 2018 during a speech he gave for the former President, Donald Trump. The relations between Cuba and the US have always been rife with mistrust and conflict, however, during the Obama years they had moved in the direction of becoming cordial and there was an attempt at building greater connectivity. The recent past has seen protests in Cuba and the US condemning the regime for a failure to provide for the basic necessities for Cuban citizens. This has only added to a sense of antagonism among the two nations.

Daniel Ortega has been Nicaragua’s Head of State since 2007. While he came to power as a revolutionary, overthrowing the Somoza regime as the head of the Junta of National Reconstruction. Ironically, he continued to grab on to power since then and there is no indication of him giving up his seat of power any time seen. The US has objected to his rule calling it undemocratic and authoritarian in the past and still continues to object to it.

Venezuela has been in a state of constant instability since end of 2015 when Nicolas Maduro delegitimised the assembly and hijacked the election process. Since December, 2015 Venezuela has been in what can only be described as a free fall; politically, economically, and socially. In an attempt to overthrow Maduro and give Venezuela another leader, the US and fifty other states recognised Juan Guaido as the legitimate President of Venezuela. However, Guaido has not managed to gather a support base, win an election, or even garner people who support him as a leader of Venezuela.

The decision by the US to exclude Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela has not been taken kindly by the rest of the Latin American and Caribbean states. The Mexican President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador or AMLO was quick to declare that he would boycott the summit or send a representative in his stead if nations were arbitrarily excluded. A similar emotion was echoed by the Ambassador of the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbaduato the US when he stated that the ‘Caribbean nations wouldn’t bother showing up’ in case countries were excluded at whim.

The Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro shared a much closer relationship with the former US President, Donald Trump; he has not been a fan of Biden since he was sworn in as the President. Bolsonaro was quick to join the bandwagon of nations announcing their dissatisfaction with the US and their stance on the Summit of the Americas.

It is important to note that the geopolitical conditions in the Latin American and Caribbean are not particularly in favour of the US anymore. The expansion of China and its influence in the region economically has also spilled over to the politics of the region. As more nations announce their proclivity towards the BRI and benefit from the deep pockets of the Chinese investors, Latin America has begun to look at an alternative to their northern neighbour and do not principally feel the need to toe the American line. This is also emblematic of the fact that as the world shifts into a multipolar paradigm the US is going to find it more difficult to shape world politics in its own image. The Summit of the Americas is yet to take place and while it might not be the greatest conclave of the American nations; the issue of greater significance would be the growing competition that the US would continue to find in its proverbial ‘backyard’.

(Author is a PhD in Latin American Studies from the Centre of Canadian, US, and Latin American Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University and is an independent political strategist. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited).

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