Amid invite controversy, Cuban leader says will skip Americas Summit

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said Wednesday he will not attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, after several regional leaders warned they would skip the meeting if some nations were excluded.

The United States is welcoming Latin American leaders to Los Angeles for the June 6-10 event, part of President Joe Biden’s effort to promote democracy and tackle migration and climate change.

But the full guest list has not been finalized yet and the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua risk not being invited.

“I can assure you that, under no circumstances, will I attend,” Diaz-Canel said on Twitter, praising “the courageous and dignified standing adopted by the countries that have raised their voices against exclusions.”

Earlier this month, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he would not go to Los Angeles, if not all countries receive an invitation. 

The leaders of Bolivia, Honduras and a number of Caribbean nations have also indicated they might boycott the event due to exclusions.

Chile did not plan to skip, but urged the United States to make the guest list as inclusive as possible.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meanwhile has indicated not only will he attend the summit but will also hold a bilateral meeting with Biden, a source from the country’s presidency told AFP on Wednesday.

The Biden administration has signaled that a country’s commitment to democracy will play a role in whether or not its leader receives an invitation.

After several leaders threatened to miss the event, Washington indicated earlier this week that it was looking for alternative ways to have Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan people represented at the summit.

In his statement Wednesday, Diaz-Canel expressed confidence that “As it has happened often times in the past, the voice of #Cuba will be heard at the Ninth Summit of the Americas.” He did not elaborate.

Cuba was invited to summits in 2015 in Panama and 2018 in Peru. Since then, Biden has mostly kept in place a reversal by his predecessor Donald Trump of a US opening to the communist-run island.