In a signal that it might backtrack on statements about excluding authoritarian governments from the upcoming Summit of the Americas, the Biden administration is considering inviting a representative of the Cuban government after Mexico and other countries threatened to boycott the gathering of leaders around the hemisphere.
The Associated Press reported the plan would entail inviting an official from Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs but not the minister himself, Bruno Rodriguez, a frequent critic of the United States.
The White House has started sending the official invitations to the heads of states in Latin America and the Caribbean to attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles next month, but it has not made a final decision about the exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, an administration official told the Miami Herald.
“The first tranche of invitations for the Summit of the America invitations went out on Wednesday,” the official told the Herald. “We are still evaluating options on how to best incorporate the voices of the Cuban, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan people into the Summit process.”
The White House did not respond to questions about the plan to invite the Cuban official.
Previously, several State Department officials hinted that the authoritarian governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua would not be invited but have added that the final decision would come from the White House.
The mixed messages continued Friday, when the State Department certified that Cuba is “not cooperating fully” in the fight against terrorism.
The Summit of the Americas, organized by the Organization of American States and the host country every few years, is the largest gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders. The ninth summit will take place June 8-10, but the uncertainty about who will show up continues as presidents of Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia and others have said that they will skip it for different reasons.
Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador has forcefully pushed back against the administration’s plans to exclude the authoritarian leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, including in a phone call with President Joe Biden. Mexico’s absence would be noticeable at a summit where countries are expected to reach a regional migration agreement.
Much of the debate is centered around Cuba, because Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega already said he is not interested in attending the summit and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on narcotrafficking charges and is not likely to travel to the United States.