June 6 (UPI) — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced Monday he will skip the Summit of the Americas this week in Los Angeles, citing a U.S. decision to exclude Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
“I am not going to the summit because not all the countries of the Americas are invited,” the president said. “I believe in the need to change the policy that has been imposed for centuries — exclusion, wanting to dominate for no reason, not respecting the sovereignty of countries.”
Lopez Obrador carried through with a threat issued last month to boycott the U.S.-hosted summit of Western hemisphere leaders if the socialist nations of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were not invited.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez announced two weeks ago he would similarly boycott the event after the Biden administration signaled it would issue invitations only to nations committed to “upholding the hemisphere’s longstanding commitment to democracy and human rights.”
Lopez Obrador, also known as AMLO, joined Honduras in opting to send a lower-level delegation in protest of the exclusion of the three countries, declaring the gathering cannot be held “with only some members” of the continent in attendance.
“I do not accept that anyone is above these countries — I do not accept hegemonies from China, Russia or the United States,” he said. “All countries, no matter how small, are free and independent.”
Despite the snub, Lopez Obrador said his government will “continue to maintain good relations” with U.S. President Joe Biden.
“I am very sorry not to be able to meet with President Biden because I consider him a good man, but he is under strong pressure from Republicans, extremists and some leaders of the Cuban community in the United States, who have a lot of influence,” he said.
U.S. Senate foreign relations committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., reacted with scorn, calling the Mexican leader’s move a “decision to stand with dictators and despots over representing the interests of the Mexican people in a summit with his partners from across the hemisphere.”
The summit, Menendez said, “is an opportunity for democracies — not authoritarian thugs — from across the hemisphere to forge an agenda that advances our shared prosperity and democratic values.”
The Biden administration in recent weeks had worked to persuade Lopez Obrador to attend the summit, which the United States is hosting for the first time since the initial gathering in 1994.
The White House has put forward an ambitious agenda for the gathering, saying it hopes to use the meeting to “develop a shared vision built around the theme for this year’s meeting, ‘Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future,'” but the run-up to the event in recent weeks has been overshadowed by the issue of invitations.