Summit of the Americas 2022: Leaders' meeting kicks off

Catch up with the latest updates on the North American trilateral summit at the Summit of the Americas 2022 Leaders' meeting in Los Angeles.

Summit of the Americas 2022: Leaders' meeting kicks off
Trilateral North American Summit, turning point for further regional ties. Photo: Agencies

According to senior officials close to the US government, this Tuesday during the Summit of the Americas, Vice President Kamala Harris will present a private investment strategy for almost 2 billion dollars to be injected into Central America to curb migration, a topic to be discussed at the meeting.

It was indicated that 1.9 billion dollars will be invested in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador as "new investments by ten companies", among which are the textile giant GAP and the telecommunications giant Millicom.

U.S. "understands" AMLO's decision not to attend the Summit of the Americas 2022

The U.S. government informed through the State Department spokesman, Ned Price, that it understands the decision of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador not to attend the Summit of the Americas.

This Monday, in a press conference from Washington, Price referred to President López Obrador regarding his message of not going to the Summit and sending on his behalf the Mexican Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, and said: "Certainly, we have heard from President López Obrador today, we understand his position on this. As I said before, we seek to collaborate with Secretary Ebrard," he said.

On Monday morning, López Obrador informed in his morning press conference that he will not attend the Summit, which will take place from this Monday until next Friday in Los Angeles, California because the White House did not invite all the countries of the continent as he conditioned.

The U.S. State Department spokesman added that "Mexico is an important player in the hemisphere and we are very grateful that Secretary Ebrad is attending" the Summit of the Americas. Ned Price added that the White House looks forward to working with Mexico, not only at the Summit but in the days that follow on several issues, including migration, climate change, and post-pandemic economic recovery.

Price mentioned to the press that U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, were in discussions with officials from neighboring countries, including Mexico, about their participation in the summit and added that "there is a diversity of opinion when it comes to who should be invited to the Summit of the Americas" and added that the United States has "made every effort to incorporate the views of the hemisphere".

However, he took the opportunity to reiterate the position of the U.S. government is not inviting to the Summit countries that it considers undemocratic, such as Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and stressed that these nations, unfortunately, are not examples of "democratic governance", he said and pointed out that one point to be addressed at the Summit is precisely democracy.

In addition to the President of Mexico, the presidents of countries such as Bolivia, Honduras, and Guatemala, decided not to attend the Summit despite having been invited, which has been considered by analysts as a plot by Mexico to reduce the importance of the meeting, given its intention to create an international organization in the continent that would group Latin American countries. Uruguay will not attend the Summit either, since its president, Luis Lacalle said this Monday that he tested positive for Covid-19.

Guatemala will not attend the Summit of the Americas

Alejandro Giammattei confirmed that he will not attend the Summit of the Americas to be held this week in Los Angeles, United States. The absence of the Guatemalan president from the presidential summit is due to complications in his agenda, as detailed to journalists on Monday by the presidential spokesman, Kevin Lopez.

That is why the Guatemalan delegation to the meeting will be led by the Foreign Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mario Búcaro. "President Giammattei will not attend the Summit of the Americas due to agenda issues", said Lopez in a press conference at the National Palace of Culture, the seat of the Government.

Last May 17, Giammattei said in a public event that the United States "was not going to invite him" to the Summit of the Americas, scheduled to take place from this Monday until next Friday in Los Angeles. In the same speech, the president said: "I already sent word that I will not go" to the summit.

However, on May 23, the Government informed that it had been officially invited to the event by the White House and pointed out that Giammattei was analyzing whether he would travel or not, but this Monday he confirmed that he would not attend the summit.

The relationship between the United States and Guatemala deteriorated last May 16 with the reelection for four more years of the attorney general and head of the Public Ministry, Consuelo Porras, by decision of Giammattei.

Porras was sanctioned in September 2021 by the United States under accusations of "obstructing" Justice in high impact cases in Guatemala and the State Department catalogued the reelection of Porras as "a step backward for democracy" in the country.

The tension between both nations was added to an international interview in which Giammattei said he will request the exit of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from the country and accused the North American nation of seeking to overthrow him.

However, last Friday, the United States and the Guatemalan government released a communiqué in which they affirmed to the strengthening of their ties and joint cooperation. The Summit of the Americas will be held without Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, which were not invited to the regional event, hosted by the United States.

What do academics say? North American trilateral summit, a milestone for integration

The three nations need each other and cannot turn their backs on each other. Joe Biden needed the meeting to reinforce his position within the U.S. Common strategies are required in the face of new pandemics. The IX North American Leaders Summit marks a turning point; it was an important, sober meeting, where the integration process of the region was relaunched, agreed on by UNAM experts in a distance media conference.

The director of the Center for Mexican Studies UNAM-Los Angeles, Silvia Núñez García, said: that this part of the world is spoken of as an area that at least aspires to be integrated, but it is necessary to work on the approach and "fine fabric" to generate regional identity, communicating to the three societies the benefits expected from the cooperation between Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

In addressing the topic "Trilateral Summit, a new path for North America?", the expert said that building a supranational narrative is difficult in current times because the pandemic has established criteria that are more oriented towards strengthening nationalism; thus, building regional identity would need to be accompanied by a series of permanent messages that, through hard and demonstrable data, communicate that "if we go together, we do better".

For Oliver Santín Peña, an academic at the Center for Research on North America (CISAN), Joe Biden needed the meeting to reinforce his position within his country and somewhat reduce the criticism against him, especially at a time when his approval rating is around 40 percent, with a drop that has become more acute since the departure of US troops from Afghanistan last August, and which is accentuated by the record number of undocumented immigrants arriving in his territory, a fact that is already causing a humanitarian crisis.

Tomás Milton Muñoz Bravo, an expert from the School of Political and Social Sciences, explained that the meeting was important because "everything was discussed: environment, health, combating the consumption of illicit drugs and human trafficking, addressing supply chains to improve production and trade in the region, ensuring decent working conditions, ending deforestation and conserving up to 30 percent of the land and water in North America in the coming years, promoting safe and orderly migration, and addressing the structural causes of human mobility".

When taking the floor again, Núñez García referred to the migration issue and stressed that Mexico must be observant of the possibility that the number of refugee applicants, especially Central Americans, could be distributed among the three countries, because this would reduce the enormous pressure that Mexico has in this area.

The American Union wants and needs a migrant labor force, but it is necessary to establish under what conditions, temporary or circular migration, family reunification, etcetera. This will take a long time; the pandemic has opened for conservatives the possibility of influencing a discourse of exclusion against those who have the need and desire to enter the US. The summit has been a good opportunity for the world to observe that Mexico's relationship with the rest of the countries is centered on its link with the United States. And "what is important to point out is that the three nations need each other and cannot turn their backs on each other".

Further on, Santín Peña stated that there are ideological differences between the Mexican president and Trudeau and Biden, the two openly neoliberal leaders who promote, among other aspects, investment in the energy sector in Mexico. In this context, Muñoz Bravo declared himself in favor of generating, on a regional scale, common strategies in the face of new pandemics to have timely responses. "I am concerned that there are no new developments in the fight against drug trafficking; they are the same recipes, without a clear commitment from the United States to prevent the sale of weapons of the large companies that are coming to our country".