The ninth Summit of the Americas, held this week in Los Angeles, has ratified the distance that separates the United States from the rest of the continent. The warning signs already overshadowed the celebration of the conclave with the discussion on the excluded countries, but the meeting has confirmed the lack of enthusiasm and, in the best of cases, the coldness or even the discomfort that presides over multilateral relations. A handful of generic institutional declarations and an agreement to regulate legal migration and curb illegal migration, signed by only 20 of the 35 countries in the region, is too poor a result, even if it goes in the right direction. US President Joe Biden tried to save the appointment by ensuring that there is a thorough understanding on essential issues. However, what the summit revealed is an x-ray of the many things that do not work in inter-American foreign policy.
The setbacks of the forum began with diplomatic clumsiness. First, the way in which the exclusion of the representatives of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua was managed, countries that Washington systematically accuses of violating human rights. And secondly, the protest of other leaders, such as the Mexican Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who preferred not to attend, generating a small domino effect. Thus the absences multiplied and the criticism of some of those present was encouraged. In any case, that pulse not only made the atmosphere rarer but also diverted the focus from what was really important. That is, the debates on economic recovery, health, security, measures against inequality, environmental or migration policies. These are the issues that challenge all the countries of the continent and that were not addressed with a climate of serenity that could provide the basis for some pact with a path.
Various voices of opposing political persuasion have referred to this summit, the first to be held in the United States after almost three decades, in the same terms: it has been a missed opportunity. Biden has preached a new rapprochement with Latin America, but he has not been able to articulate a sharper break with the breakdowns left by Donald Trump and create the new harmony necessary to open a firmer stage of dialogue and relaxation. For their part, some Latin American governments remain installed in a very suspicious logic towards the White House that does not facilitate meeting and negotiation places either. The first victim of these positions is the internal cohesion of the continent, where the gap between North and South continues to be abysmal. What has been seen this week in Los Angeles contains the umpteenth and implicit call for the United States and the rest of the region to adapt their diplomatic agenda to the urgent needs that affect the countries of the Americas.
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