The administration of US President Joe Biden has accused Cuba of stirring up controversy over its possible exclusion from the US-hosted Summit of the Americas next month to portray Washington as the “bad guy” and distract from Cuba’s human rights record. Havana in the country.
Speaking at a Latin America conference on Thursday, Kerri Hannan, deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said countries that have threatened to skip the regional meeting if Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua are not invited should attend or they would lose an opportunity. . to engage with the United States.
A possible boycott of the June 6-10 summit by a growing number of leaders, including Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has increased the risk of embarrassment for Biden, who will host the meeting in Los Angeles.
Like any neighborhood, the Americas benefit most when governments, civil society, and individuals work together to address shared challenges and seize opportunities. We look forward to hosting our hemispheric neighbors at the 9th #SummitAmericas in Los Angeles this June. pic.twitter.com/9mim78DgUM— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 14, 2022
Earlier this week, a US delegation traveled to Mexico to discuss the issue.
The development comes as the White House has said it has not yet sent out invitations and declined to provide details. However, a senior State Department official said in April that the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro would likely be excluded because they have shown no respect for democracy.
Adding to weeks of Cuban criticism, President Miguel Diaz-Canel told lawmakers Monday that “a country unable to accommodate everyone should be disqualified as host.”
“Cubans love this, they get the attention they get for not showing up and … they continue to beat that drum,” Hannan said.
“The more they can shine a light on us and call us the bad guys, they are avoiding the fact that the crackdown they have been actively perpetrating against their people,” she said, citing a crackdown on street protests last July. . “They want the press not to invite them to the summit or not… Hypocrisy plays well in the media.”
Last July, thousands of Cubans took to the streets in peaceful anti-communist protests demanding freedom.
Authorities responded by cracking down on protesters, and in January the government acknowledged that more than 1,000 protesters faced criminal charges.
The development also came as the Biden administration this week announced a partial rollback of Trump-era restrictions on remittances and travel to the communist-ruled island. Cuba’s deputy foreign minister on Wednesday denounced the US policy towards the island as one of continued “hostility” and “economic blockade.”
López Obrador said last week that he would not go to the summit if Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were not invited. His Bolivian counterpart, Luis Arce, did the same.
For his part, the president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, said that he “was not interested” in the meeting. “This summit does not dignify anyone, rather it makes them dirty, it stains them. We Latin Americans have to defend ourselves so that they respect us,” Ortega said in a public act this Wednesday.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is also likely to skip the meeting. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said Tuesday that he would not attend, a day after the United States criticized the re-election of a prosecutor general he has linked to corruption.