The 2022 Summit of the Americas is being held in Los Angeles, California, from June 6 to June 10. This is the ninth anniversary of the event, and this year’s theme is “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future.” US President Joe Biden will join leaders from North, Central, and South American countries to discuss shared policy goals and strengthen economic relationships.
However, there will be a notable absence this year — one of America’s closest neighbors to the South. On Monday, June 6, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed he would not be at the summit. At his daily press conference, Lopez Obrador explained he would not be attending because not all countries were invited to this important event.
According to The Hill, Lopez Obrador has been saying for weeks that he will not attend the summit unless the United States includes the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua, and representatives of Venezuela’s Maduro government, the latter of which America does not recognize. These governments all have a distinct commonality: they do not acknowledge or adhere to the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard will attend in Lopez Obrador’s place. Xiomara Castro, the president of Honduras, will not be in attendance either. Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina will be taking her place in Los Angeles for the summit. The event will continue as planned, but the absence of these leaders is a blow to the Biden administration, which has spent considerable effort in courting these governments that tilt to the left side of the political fence.
Vice President Kamala Harris has a solid relationship with Castro, which worsens this sting. Harris was the guest of honor at the Honduran president’s inauguration to rebuild a relationship with the country. And Harris also visited Lopez Obrador on her first foreign venture as VP.
While the Mexican president did acknowledge his “very good relationship” with President Biden, whom he called “a good man,” he also noted the possibility of pressure from the Republicans and Democrats to omit the three nations. This was likely a reference to Senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Menendez did not refrain from criticizing Lopez Obrador for choosing not to attend the summit. In faulting the Mexican President for “standing with dictators rather than representing the interests of the Mexican people,” one cannot help but wonder if the New Jersey Senator is making an already-fragile relationship even more delicate.