HAVANA (Reuters) – A bloc of leftist countries meeting in Havana has condemned the exclusion of certain nations from next month’s Summit of the Americas, after the United States said it only wanted leaders of “governments that respect democracy” to attend.
The United States will host the Summit of the Americas from June 6 to 10 in Los Angeles, and has said it will not invite the governments of Venezuela or Nicaragua. The summit coordinator said it was up to the White House whether it would invite Cuba but said Cuban civil society activists had been asked to attend.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel said this week that he would not attend under “any circumstances” even if invited.
“Exclusions are no longer possible. The decision to not invite everyone is a historic setback and all countries must be invited on equal terms. It is disrespectful and harmful to the sovereignty of nations to try to decide from the privileged condition of the host. In the face of attempts at exclusion and selectivity, it is urgent to strengthen the authentic mechanisms of Latin American and Caribbean integration and coordination,” Diaz-Canel said.
The 10 countries known as the ALBA bloc - including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua - issued a statement from Havana saying they “reject the exclusions and discriminatory treatment at the so-called Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.”
In addition, they described the exclusion as “arbitrary, ideological and politically motivated” and said “this unilateral decision constituted a serious historical setback in hemispheric relations.”
Shortly beforehand, in a broadcast speech, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro described the upcoming summit as “erratic.” He applauded other nations such as Mexico, which is not a member of ALBA, that had “stood up to raise the voice of the truth of an entire continent.”
The White House and U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, along with the leaders of Bolivia and several other countries, have threatened to boycott the summit if certain countries are excluded.
Bolivian President Luis Arce also said, “We strongly reject the exclusion of our sister nations from the ninth Summit of the Americas, and I reiterate my decision to not attend such meeting until all governments of the countries of the Americas are invited, under conditions of full hierarchical equality and participation.”
The U.S. administrations have successively scrambled over the years to expand their foothold in the Latin American countries, described in the U.S. political playbook as Washington’s backyard, by interfering in their domestic affairs and piling up economic pressure on them to succumb to its demands.
The U.S. has maintained a harsh economic, financial, and commercial embargo against Cuba for more than 60 years.