After arguments about the participants and several cancellations, it is now down to the substance: Heads of state and government from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean want to negotiate on migration, health, energy and climate change.

After a diplomatic tug-of-war over the list of participants, US President Joe Biden will open the IX. Organization of American States (OAS) Summit in Los Angeles.

The representatives from 31 countries from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean now want to discuss pressing issues in the region such as migration, economic development after the corona pandemic, health care, food safety and climate change by Friday. It is the first America summit in the USA since the first meeting in this format in 1994 in Miami.

US President wants to revitalize relations with the South

Biden wants to use the meeting to give new impetus to relations between North, Central and South America. His predecessor, Donald Trump, was not very interested in his neighbors to the south. A number of initiatives on migration, energy and climate change are to be launched at the summit. However, the focus recently was primarily on the question of who would come to the summit in California at all.

The US government did not invite the presidents of the authoritarian states of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to the summit. That was actually not surprising, since the three countries are not active members of the OAS. Cuba was suspended in 1962 and reinstated in 2009, but the Caribbean island’s socialist government does not participate in the work of the OAS. Venezuela withdrew from the OAS and Nicaragua has started a withdrawal process.

Boycott from Mexico and other countries

Nevertheless, several left-wing heads of government such as Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Bolivia’s Head of State Luis Arce and Honduran President Xiomara Castro declared their solidarity with the uninvited politicians and canceled their participation. The heads of state and government from El Salvador, Guatemala, Uruguay and two small Caribbean countries also did not come to the meeting.

The rejection of the presidents from Mexico and Central America is a diplomatic defeat for Biden. The US President needs them to curb the massive migration from these countries to the USA. It was only on Monday that thousands of people in southern Mexico made their way north again. Tens of thousands are already waiting at the southern border of the USA and are hoping to be able to enter the United States. This also puts pressure on Biden domestically.