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lopez obrador and madero López Obrador says he won't attend summit if Venezuela's Madero, right, and two other leaders are not invited.

Respect for democracy a condition for attending Summit of the Americas: US official

'Who are we to judge?' asks AMLO of participation by Latin American dictatorships

Respect for democracy is an essential condition for attendance at the Summit of the Americas, a senior United States official said Thursday.

The U.S. government appears unlikely to invite the presidents of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to the ninth edition of the regional forum, which will be held in Los Angeles between June 6 and 10.

President López Obrador declared earlier this week that he won’t attend the summit unless all countries of the region are invited.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols said Thursday that “Western Hemisphere leaders have placed strengthening democracy at the center of their efforts to improve the lives of the people of our hemisphere since the first Summit of the Americas in Miami in 1994.”

Speaking virtually to the Americas Society/Council of the Americas’ 52nd Annual Washington Conference on the Americas, Nichols said that each subsequent summit “has reaffirmed our shared dedication to democracy.”

He noted that regional leaders directed the creation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter at the third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001. The charter was adopted by the Organization of American States (OAS) later the same year.

“In Quebec City the region’s leaders upheld the strict respect for democracy as an essential condition for participation in all future summits,” Nichols said.

“Since then any … interruption of the summit democratic order has presented an obstacle to summit participation. Democracy is vital not only to governments and leaders but to our citizens around the world and in our hemisphere in particular,” he said.

Cuba, whose OAS membership was suspended between 1962 and 2009, was prohibited from attending the first six Summits of the Americas, but sent representatives to the two most recent events in Panama in 2015 and Peru in 2018.

Nichols previously said that the Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan governments have demonstrated that they don’t respect democracy and would be unlikely to be invited to the upcoming summit. He has acknowledged that United States President Joe Biden will have the final say on whether they have a seat at the table or not.

In addition to López Obrador, the presidents of Argentina, Bolivia and Honduras have called for all countries of the region to be invited to the summit as have leaders of several Caribbean nations.

Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols.
Summits have always had a shared dedication to democracy, says Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols.

Meanwhile, the Mexican president on Wednesday responded to a tweet by prominent United States-based Mexican journalist Jorge Ramos, who said that he “has every right not to go to the Summit of the Americas if he doesn’t want to but what he’s asking is that thugs, torturers, censors and oppressors be invited to the party.”

López Obrador questioned the validity of Ramos’ assertion, which he made in reference to Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

“Who are we to call some people thugs, torturers and oppressors and not others? Do we consider ourselves supreme judges now? Are we going to decide about others? With what right?” the president said.

“If we enter that terrain we’ll never get out of the debate. What we seek is unity, not confrontation,” López Obrador said.

He said that Mexico is seeking an agreement so that “we all participate” in the summit, “all of America.”

“If there are differences, let them be exhibited, there should be dialogue,” López Obrador said.

“… I’ve said that no one should exclude anyone. We’re going to seek unity – unity is in our interest. That’s what politics is for, that’s what diplomacy is for,” he said.

Ramos countered that his opinion of the “brutal dictatorships” in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela is supported by “numerous reports about violations of human rights by Amnesty International and other organizations.”

“… There are hundreds and hundreds of political prisoners in Cuban, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan jails. The Mexicans must take sides but our side must be that of democracy, justice, freedoms and respect of human rights,” he said in a video message.

“Mr. President we’re still in disagreement. I believe that the thugs mustn’t go to the party.”

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