The Biden administration has chosen Los Angeles to host a summit of leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean, which is an important part of its spread to a region that is increasingly being wooed by US opponents such as Russia and China.
The summit in America, taking place in the week of June 6, will focus on defending democracy and human rights in the Western Hemisphere, as well as addressing irregular migration, climate change and efforts to ensure equitable growth as the region emerges from Covid. 19 pandemic, a senior congressional assistant briefed by the State Department told the Associated Press.
“Los Angeles has a rich history of bringing the world together to share ideas and celebrate what we all have in common as members of the global community,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“With our deep cultural and economic ties throughout the hemisphere, LA is the perfect host for this gathering, and we know this gathering will benefit our community and our local economy. I am grateful to the Biden administration for choosing our bid. , and I am pleased to welcome the summit to our city. “
LA will already be busy that week – the event will coincide with California’s primary election on June 7th.
It is the first time the United States has hosted the Central Regional Assembly since 1994, when President Bill Clinton hosted regional leaders in Miami to push for a free trade agreement stretching from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.
But with the ambitious goal long ago set amid a rise in left-wing, anti-American policies in several parts of the region, many experts have questioned the need for an expensive assembly of more than 30 heads of state, each pushing their own bilateral agenda with Washington but often cooperates a little with each other.
The region has in recent years diversified its trade and diplomatic ties, and the United States has largely stood by as Russia, China, Iran and other foreign powers hostile to the United States have gained influence in what became decades little referred to as Washington’s backyard.
President Donald Trump did not even want to show up for the last summit, in Peru in 2018.
“The United States is holding the summit on the brink of a global pandemic, with authoritarianism on the way and declining influence in the hemisphere,” said Jennie Lincoln, senior adviser at the Atlanta-based Carter Center, focusing on peace initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean. “What incentives will the Biden administration offer, and what will it ask for in return in this new competitive environment?”
It is not clear who Los Angeles knocked out. But cities like Miami, Houston and New Orleans were also rumored to have considered a bid.
In the end, Los Angeles – a democratic stronghold where Vice President Kamala Harris has deep roots – was considered a safe choice, a choice that reflects the administration’s focus on addressing the driving forces behind migration from Central America and Mexico. Many migrants fleeing economic hardship and gang violence in the region have relocated to Los Angeles.
The White House said in a statement announcing the decision Tuesday that “the vital national interests of the United States are inextricably linked to the wealth of our closest neighbors in America.”
“The ability of our democracies to close the gap between what we promise and what we deliver depends in no small part on what we do together to make it better,” it added.
It is unclear whether leaders from all 35 nations of the hemisphere will be invited to attend the summit. Earlier, Cuba was excluded, but President Barack Obama famously shook hands with former President Raul Castro at the 2015 Panama summit as part of his efforts to re-establish diplomatic relations with the communist-run island.
Another sore spot is Venezuela. The Biden administration has continued Trump’s policy of recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s legitimate leader, meaning President Nicolás Maduro, who has consolidated his government with the support of the Venezuelan military, is unlikely to be invited.
The Biden administration has taken a similarly tough stance against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s repression of his opponents and has also raised doubts about El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele’s commitment to democracy.