The US president called democracy ‘essential for the future of the Americas’, at an opening ceremony in Los Angeles punctuated by songs and messages from children extolling the natural wonders of the countries of America Latin.
“Our region is large and diverse. We don’t always agree on everything. But because we are democracies, we approach our differences with mutual respect and dialogue,” he said.
– “Strategic error” –
The regional summit is marked by the absence of certain heads of state, notably from Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia and Honduras.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in particular criticizes the White House for having excluded Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. He decided not to attend the summit.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who made the trip, told his counterparts that the exclusion of these three countries constituted a “strategic error”. He also said that Mexico would be looking at how to reform regional institutions.
The American executive justified this choice by “reservations” in the face of “the lack of democratic space and respect for human rights”.
Joe Biden also touted Wednesday the launch of a “Partnership of the Americas for Economic Prosperity” to encourage more inclusive growth in Latin America.
“What is true in the United States is true in every country. The trickle-down economy does not work,” said the Democrat, who has already criticized this idea several times that the enrichment of the wealthiest would automatically lead to that of all economic actors.
The Summit of the Americas is meant to illustrate the Biden administration’s desire to revive and renew the relationship with Latin American countries, at a time when China is investing heavily in the region.
– Eleven visits from Xi Jinping –
The Council of Foreign Relations has counted Chinese President Xi Jinping to have visited the region 11 times since taking office in 2013.
Joe Biden has not visited Latin America since taking office in January 2021.
But Washington does not intend to respond to China with aggressive financial announcements.
“The United States has never considered that its advantage in the world consists only in raising immense sums of public money,” said the main diplomatic adviser to the White House Jake Sullivan.
Rather, the US goal would be to “unlock significant amounts of private funding,” he said.
Joe Biden also mentioned the signing, scheduled for Friday, of a “Los Angeles Declaration” on immigration, a major domestic policy issue for the American president.
He spoke of an “integrated approach” aimed at “sharing responsibility”, as many migrants arrive at the southern border of the United States.
Summit participants will, he said, make “a common commitment” to both create “opportunities for safe and orderly migration” and “suppress human trafficking.”
US Vice President Kamala Harris announced on Tuesday private sector commitments totaling $1.9 billion to support job creation in Central America and discourage departures to the United States.
The summit will also be an opportunity for Joe Biden to have bilateral talks.
One of the most watched is due to take place on Thursday with far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, with whom he will have his first face-to-face.
The meeting will be delicate. The White House assures that Joe Biden intends to address the subject of the next elections in Brazil, highly contentious for his Brazilian counterpart.
Jair Bolsonaro, who is seeking a second term but who is struggling in the polls, is critical of his country’s electoral system, as if he was already considering contesting a possible defeat.