The U.S. recently hosted the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles with a focus on “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” for the hemisphere. Scholar Cornel West was not impressed and blasted the event for not being inclusive.
West is Professor Emeritus at Princeton University and a former professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard University.
The summit, held from June 6 to June 10, has historically been a place for the U.S. to promote its political agenda to Latin American countries.
The summit is the only hemispheric meeting of leaders from countries of the Americas and serves as a forum to address the region’s shared challenges and goals. The Ninth Summit marks the first time the U.S. has hosted the event since the inaugural meeting in Miami in 1994, according to the U.S. Department of State.
According to the Summit website, the purpose of the summit is to discuss common issues and seek solutions to problems shared by all the countries in the Americas.
But the summit was not as inclusive as the west and some thought it should be. Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua were not invited.
West spoke at the People’s Summit for Democracy, which was held in opposition to the Summit of the Americas.
“Don’t come to Los Angeles like you’re some vanguard for human rights,” West said, calling out President Joe Biden’s administration.
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“When you look at the history of Latin America as the playground of the American Empire,” West contined, the U.S. has treated “Latin Americans brothers and sisters as if they are cockroaches to be crushed rather than human beings with great dignity who organize and fight back.”
Several presidents of countries in the Americas voiced their disappointment in the U.S.-hosted summit.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) announced on May 10 that he would boycott the summit in protest against the exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
Alberto Fernández, president of Argentina, also spoke out during the summit.
“We would definitely have wanted a different Summit of the Americas. The silence of those absent challenges us,” said Fernández, who also serves as president pro tempore of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC). “So that this does not happen again, I would like to state for the future that the fact of being the host country of the summit does not grant the capacity to impose a ‘right of admission’ on the member countries of the continent.”
The People’s Summit for Democracy was also held in L.A. simultaneously with the Summit of the Americas and it drew activists from organizations such as Union de Vecinos, ANSWER Coalition and People’s Forum, People’s Dispatch reported.
“Working-class and poor people in the United States have a hundred times more in common with the people of Cuba and their government, a hundred times more in common with Venezuela and its government, than we do with the Wall Street bankers and capitalists who pretend to speak in our name,” said Brian Becker, executive director of the ANSWER Coalition, at the People’s Summit.
“The world is much bigger than the dominance and arrogance of Washington,” said President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, calling the People’s Summit “the true Summit of Los Angeles.”
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Some complained that the summit was used as a tool to punish Latin American countries long targeted by the U.S. for regime change such as Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez spoke to The Los Angeles Times about his country’s exclusion from the Summit of the Americas, saying it was a missed opportunity.
“The principle of inclusivity in events like this is indisputable. Cuba belongs to the hemisphere, like the other countries. Therefore all should be invited on equal footing,” he said.
He also called out the U.S. agenda behind the exclusion.
Rodríguez said, “The U.S. was acting out of a hegemonic vision of domination, anchored in past centuries and mistaken policies that distance the U.S. from our region. The U.S. needs Latin America and the Caribbean as much as the region needs a respectful relationship with the U.S., one that does not interfere with our domestic affairs.”
Photo of Cornel West by Gage Skidmore, https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/