The president of the United States, Joe Biden, invited Argentina along with more than a hundred countries to a virtual summit for democracy, but the region left out Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti and Bolivia.
In a decision that sparked the ire of Beijing, it also sidelined China and summoned Taiwan.
The summit will be on December 9 and 10 and, as officially announced by the State Department, «it will be a platform for leaders to announce commitments, reforms and individual and collective initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad.»
As a State Department source told Clarín, “the purpose of the guest list was to ensure that the Summit reflects a diverse list of democracies. We are covering a wide spectrum of points of view, with a clear recognition that no democracy is perfect. We want to commit ourselves, promote positive changes and learn from the shared experience ”.
The President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega. AFP photo
At the global level, the Biden government left out Russia and also China, but invited Taiwan (which Beijing regards as one of its provinces), sparking outrage from the Chinese government. The US «one China» policy recognizes Beijing as the government of China, but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.
Biden’s decision strains relations with Beijing, just days after the US president had a virtual meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jimping.
From the Middle East, where absolute monarchies and other undemocratic regimes abound, only Israel and Iraq were invited to this meeting and some traditional Arab allies of the United States, such as Egypt, they are not cited.
From Latin America, the US president invited, in addition to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, but it excluded Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador.
Asked what the reason for the exclusion of some countries is, the source added: “The United States reached out to a regionally diverse set of democracies whose progress and commitments will promote a more just and peaceful world. Our goal is to be as inclusive as possible, within logistical constraints. We will work to ensure that all relevant voices and points of view are incorporated into the Summit process. ”
Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela. AFP photo
He added: “We will continue to work with Summit participants and other governments around the world to address democratic backsliding, promote respect for human rights and defend ourselves against corruption both at home and abroad, whether this work is carried out within or outside the framework of the Summit ”.
The invitation to the government of Alberto Fernández was expected and the president will seek in that forum oil ties to the Biden administration on an issue that matters a lot to the head of the White House.
When many times from Washington an erratic foreign policy of our country is observed, with friendly gestures towards regimes such as the Venezuelan or Nicaraguan, the Government had a gesture that was well seen in this capital: support for the OAS resolution that I consider » illegitimate «the recent elections in Nicaragua.
Argentina needs the support of the United States at this time because it is a decisive actor in the International Monetary Fund.
The non-invitation to the governments of Nicolás Maduro, Miguel Díaz Canel and Daniel Ortega not surprising, since Washington has described these regimes as dictatorships, has denounced human rights violations and imposed economic sanctions of various kinds.
“The exclusion of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba is simply an affirmation of what we all know to be true: these countries are undemocratic, authoritarian and repressive towards their own populations. To include them in a summit of democracies would be a mockery of democratic principles, ”Cynthia Arnson, director of the Wilson Center’s Latin America Program, told Clarín.
In the case of El Salvador, the expert adds, “it says a lot that the United States charge d’affaires, Jean Manes, former United States ambassador to that country, has decided to leave El Salvador because efforts to interact with the government have been unsuccessful. Bukele’s authoritarian tendencies have only gotten worse over time. Manes had worked hard to build bridges with the government. The fact that he gives up says it all. «
In El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, the United States denounced in August «Weak democratic institutions» and it suspended visas for officials and former officials for corruption cases in those countries.
The case of Bolivia is more surprising, since the US government has expressed caution in general after the victory of Héctor Arce in 2019 after elections that the OAS considered fraudulent.
President Luis Arce and Evo Morales in La Paz. AFP photo
The State Department says on its website that relations have become «tense» after the decision of the government of Evo Morales in 2008 to expel the US ambassador and some aid agencies and has sometimes expressed «concern» about some arrests of opponents.
“Bolivia is not invited to the democracy summit more than anything because there has been a very large debate on dWhere is Bolivia at the moment. Not only about the internal tension that exists but, above all, what has happened with former president Jeanine Añez, who is still in prison, and there are signs of other human rights violations, «he told Clarion Eduardo Gamarra, professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University.
The expert adds that, in addition, «the Biden administration is not comfortable with the fact that Bolivia is one of the only countries who supported the recent vote in Nicaragua and that he held the elections in that country when they were absolutely fraudulent ”.
These elections were described by the United States as a «farce» and as «illegitimate» in the OAS in a resolution endorsed by the White House and most regional governments, including Argentina.