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Mexican president unlikely to attend Summit of the Americas in LA next month

Tracy Wilkinson and Cecilia Sanchez, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

López Obrador, a leftist populist who himself has started displaying certain authoritarian tendencies, also suggested the summit be used to find a replacement for the Organization of American States, the largest regional body that some see as being pro-United States. He proposed a new body that represents all countries equally and is not an “appendage” of the great powers.

As things stand, he said, the OAS, with headquarters in Washington, is “a joke, a humiliation.”

Biden’s special envoy for the summit, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, spoke to López Obrador extensively earlier this month after he first threatened to boycott the weeklong conference, and the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, has been seen entering the presidential palace in Mexico City several times over the last week.

Dodd was in Buenos Aires this week, attempting to prevent any boycott from spreading to other countries. The assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, Brian Nichols, is in the Caribbean this week, where several nations also said they were going to stay home from the summit in protest.

And on Friday, a group of Democratic members of Congress released a letter in which they told Biden it was a mistake to leave countries off the guest list.

“While we may not support many of the actions taken by the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, we believe that a policy of engagement will yield more fruitful results than a continued policy of isolation,” the letter said.

The group warned that the controversy threatens Biden’s broader policy goals in the region, including slowing illegal immigration and improving health and development in the hemisphere’s 34 nations.

 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and State Department spokesman Ned Price have refused to publicly detail the status of invitations to the summit, saying initial “tranches” of invites have gone out.

López Obrador, who generally shuns international conferences, said in his remarks Friday that he wasn’t trying to be “confrontational.”

“President Biden is respectful, he always speaks to me about respect, sovereignty and believes we should treat each other as equals,” López Obrador said, but added: “Now is not the time to exclude anyone.”

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(Times staff writer Wilkinson reported from Washington and special correspondent Sanchez reported from Mexico City.)

©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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