Experts estimate that the absence of eight Latin American countries from Joe Biden’s summit on democracy could lead to the creation of a “club of good guys” and another of bad guys, which could “counterproductive” to US interests and democracy itself in the region.
The US President will hold a Virtual Summit for Democracy on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 December that has been invited by more than 100 governments, as well as prominent activists, journalists, leaders from the private sector and other members of civil society.
The idea is to serve as a platform for leaders to “announce new commitments, reforms and initiatives” according to three pillars: defending democracy against authoritarianism, fighting corruption and respecting human rights, a US government official said Tuesday. Under anonymity.
Eight countries in the Americas have been excluded from this meeting, which will be hypothetical due to the pandemic. These are Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Haiti, to which an invitation has not been sent.
“It is very likely that his absence from the summit will be counterproductive “For the interests of the United States and democracy in the region,” Michael Schefter, president of Inter-American Dialogue, told AFP.
Exclusionaries could explain that the United States applies an “if you’re not with me, you’re against me” policy and leads to two teams, “one democracies and the other,” says Christopher Sabatini, a researcher at Chatham House.
“If not handled with care, it can create two blocs,” without each necessarily having an ideological affinity, so that “a good club gets diplomatic advantages and recognition in the White House, and then there are the others,” he explained.
Northern Triangle outside
In the case of Latin America, it is remarkable that the Northern Triangle of Central America – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – are all a priority in US policy to address the main causes of migration.
Scheffer believes that this is because “Biden assumes that there is a lot of corruption and weakening of democratic institutions” in those countries “and of course he is right.”
However, “their leaders know the situation is more or less dangerous in other countries in the region that have been invited, such as Brazil, and they note that democracy is more fragile than many thought in the United States,” he adds.
source of resentment?
The United States says it “humbly intends to host this summit”. “We see ourselves not as a democracy with all the answers, but with openness and transparency about our efforts to overcome challenges at home while working with partners to support democracy and human rights abroad,” the government official says.
By excluding them, “we can expect the three governments to become more challenging than ever to the United States and to cooperate less in dealing with immigration pressures,” Schifter says.
Not to mention that they will likely harbor “resentment”, which will make them “more resistant to implementing political reforms and increase their interest, already high, in strengthening alliances with China and other actors.”
Fighting corruption is a requirement for Biden to be part of the secret meeting, something like a master key with which a large part of the problems can be solved.
Sabatini doubts that. For him, the main challenge is not corruption, but “poor distribution of resources, income and inequality.”
It would be more useful if this week’s summit was an open space, “more inclusive, and more focused on talking about goals” as difficult as it would be, he points out, taking as the example of the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993.
The United States did not invite the government of Venezuela, which it considers a dictatorship, but invited Juan Guaido, the leader of the opposition to Nicolas Maduro, who, in turn, included opponents from other countries in his official delegation, such as Nicaragua Berta. Valle and Cuban Rosa Maria Baia.
Cuba criticized the summit on Twitter. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez denounced that “selective invitation to a summit that it claims is about democracy is a sign of the weakness of the United States, incapable of confronting its denigration and isolation at the United Nations.”
And now the United States, host of the Summit of the Americas in 2022, “Does it also intend not to invite these countries for their failure to comply with democratic standards? And even if you invited them, would they want to attend after being excluded?” Shifter wonders.
Giamatti criticizes democracy summit
On Tuesday 7 December, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giamatti announced, Criticized the summit of democracy Organized by Washington and says that his government will not accept hypotheses.
“Someone spoke of a summit of presidents, I don’t know what it means, I did not come to the United States to tell you that there is a country near you, we can do a lot for the United States, but we will not allow anyone to demand that we adopt things that are contrary to our beliefs, our faith and our laws, at any cost, Even if it’s not an invitation to the White House,” the president said during his speech at a conference organized by the Institute for Women’s Health and the International Human Rights Group in Washington, DC.
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