Migration policy, Russia sanctions, Cuba embargo: There is a lot to discuss between North America and the Latin American countries at the America Summit in Los Angeles, which begins on Monday. However, it will probably only be clear on the opening day which heads of state and government will actually travel to the Californian metropolis and which will boycott the summit.
The conflict between Washington and some democratic left-wing governments over how to deal with the three left-wing autocracies of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela has erupted openly. While the US does not want the three regimes to be present in Los Angeles because they do not guarantee free elections, Latin American politicians consider this to be a wrong approach and call for dialogue. “If not all nations are there, it’s not an America summit,” says Honduran President Xiomara Castro.
Some presidents, such as Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, even threatened a boycott. However, Nicaragua’s Sandinista President Daniel Ortega, who had all his rivals arrested and tried before the last elections and threw hundreds of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) out of the country, let it be known that he was not interested in traveling to the USA anyway: “The Yankees are supposed to take us to… Leave it alone.” In order to allay the dissatisfaction of the Latin American countries with dealings with Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, the USA recently eased its sanctions against Caracas and Havana. It is still unclear whether this is enough for a harmonious summit course.
The second point of contention is how to deal with the migration flows towards the USA. Here, too, the focus is on Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, which, along with other Central American countries and Haiti, are currently considered the largest migration hotspots. Human Rights Watch’s Tyler Mattiace criticizes that the United States has sealed itself off at the expense of neighboring countries: “Migration policy must be one of the key issues that the heads of state and government discuss at the summit. Current immigration policies aimed at forcibly blocking migrants are abusive and unsustainable.”
Joe Biden will also feel the resentment of some Latin American governments over the West’s recently imposed sanctions on Russia. Although most Latin American countries – with the exception of the three left-wing autocracies – show solidarity because of the Russian war of aggression with Ukraine, they see the sanctions of the West as a reason why a food crisis is also threatening in Latin America.
Brazil’s right-wing populist President Jair Bolsonaro wants to buy fertilizers for agricultural production despite the sanctions, Argentina’s President Fernandez sees the food security of the entire continent at risk. In this part of the world there is a growing danger that the West, not Moscow, will be blamed for the economic crisis. This is also due to the fact that Latin America has traditionally been critical of the US trade embargo against Cuba, for example, and considers sanctions to be the wrong means of solving crises.