Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador threatened to boycott next month’s Summit of the Americas, saying on Tuesday that its participation would only be confirmed if the host country, the United States, invited Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
“Participation in the Los Angeles summit has not yet been resolved because we propose that no one be excluded because we seek the unity of all America,” López Obrador said during his daily briefing in Mexico City.
“We believe there should be no confrontation. Even with the differences, we have to dialogue, all Americans, so we still have to solve this problem; we have very good relations with the government of President Biden. We want everyone to be invited. This is Mexico’s position,” he added.
US officials have repeatedly said that the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela will not be invited to the summit because of their human rights registers.
As the host country, the United States has the privilege of selecting the leaders to invite to the summit.
However, the White House said on Tuesday that no decision had been made on López Obrador’s comments.
“We haven’t decided who will be invited yet, and no invitations have been sent out yet,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
If López Obrador were to give up Mexico’s place at the rally – which is due to take place in June – it would be a considerable snub to the White House and the administration of US President Joe Biden in particular, who have tried to use the summit as a opportunity to strengthen Latin America’s ties with the United States, in the context of growing Chinese interaction in the region.
The Mexican president responded at home after a tour of Central America and Cuba, where he met the Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel and former president Raul Castro. In Cuba, López Obrador said he would urge Biden that no country in the Americas be excluded from the summit.
“I am aware that there are political groups in the United States that are committed to confrontation, that would like to hold the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean hostage, as is the case with the blockade against Cuba, which is heavily promoted by Cuban politicians who have a lot of influence in the United States,” López Obrador said.
“But I consider the blockade inappropriate, and inhuman (…) an entire people cannot suffer for the interest of a group, so the American government must decide it because it is a question of human rights , which has to do with sovereignty,” he added.
He added: “If excluded, if not everyone is invited, a representation of the Mexican government will go, but I will not go. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard would represent me.
The Summit of the Americas is traditionally a gathering of countries from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean, and is held every four years.
Relations between the United States and Cuba have been strained for decades, even though the two countries held their first high-level talks in four years in April.
Nicaragua and Venezuela are on bad terms with Washington following a long list of sanctions against their governments and recent questionable elections.