The Summit of the Americas and an Indecisive AMLO
By RICARDO CASTILLO
Just a week before it is set to start, Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has yet to decide whether he will attend the June 6 Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California.
Over this weekend, AMLO had several opportunities to make a statement as to whether he will attend, but instead kept repeating that, regardless of his presence, Mexico’s delegation will be represented by Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.
A couple of weeks ago, AMLO said that he would only attend the summit if all the presidents of nations belonging to the Organization of American States (OAS).
The United States had stated that both Nicaragua and Venezuela would not be welcome because they are governed by dictators and lack democracy. As of Friday, May 27, an invite to a Cuban delegation was still under consideration.
AMLO’s ambiguous positioning on whether to attend the meeting caused a political stir throughout the continent, bringing into question the very nature of the summit.
AMLO’s threats were soon echoed by similar ultimatums from Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala and other left-leaning governments.
Argentina even suggested that there be a simultaneous meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to debate the issue.
Quickly enough, Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretariat declined to attend any such CELAC gathering.
Meanwhile, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro have declined in advance any potential invitation that might be forthcoming.
And Cuba’s Miguel Díaz-Canel made it clear Cuba was not attending the LA Summit.
The fact is, none of the three were on the guest list.
On Friday, May 27, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar paid an impromptu visit to the National Palace, apparently to extract a yes answer from AMLO.
But AMLO continues to bide his time with a “maybe” answer that is a double-edged machete in terms of Mexico’s foreign relations.
On the one hand, López Obrador has positioned himself among left-leaning Latin Americans as a potential regional leader.
But on the other hand, his indecision and evasiveness make it more difficult for U.S. President Joe Biden to organize the summit, especially if Latin America’s two largest economies do not attend.
Many international analysts believe that an “I will not attend” will create a definite and permanent barrier in his relations with Biden, possibly hindering cooperation on future pressing issues.
Several national leaders are of the opinion that the United States, as host, has every right to decide who to invite.
And, of course, those invitees are entitled to decide whether to accept on not.
Nonetheless, for AMLO, a yes answer is undoubtedly right answer if he wants to maintain ongoing good and polite relations with Mexico’s biggest neighbor and trade partner.