LOS ANGELES—Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador announced on June 6 that he would boycott the Summit of the Americas, which is kicking off this week at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and not attend due to the United States’ exclusion of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.
“I am not going to the Summit because not all the countries of the Americas are invited,” Obrador said in a statement translated online. “I believe in the need to change the policy that has been imposed for centuries, exclusion, wanting to dominate for no reason, not respecting the sovereignty of countries … All countries, no matter how small, are free and independent.”
Lopez Obrador said he would send Mexico’s foreign minister instead.
The Mexican president also said he planned to meet with President Joe Biden in July to talk about immigration.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden didn’t want “dictators” at the summit, which was why these leaders of the three countries were not invited.
“The president’s principled position is that we do not believe dictators should be invited,” Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing. “Which is the reason that the president has decided not to attend,” she said referring to Obrador.
Doubts about the effectiveness of the conference began circulating before the Mexican president’s boycott was announced as the Biden administration declined to confirm which nations would attend this year or release an invitee list.
The Los Angeles summit marks the second time the event will be held in the United States and will “promote a green and equitable recovery from the pandemic,” according to one senior government official in the Biden Administration.
The U.S. Department of State said it expects the event to provide a chance to confirm shared commitments. The theme of this year’s conference is “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future.”
“Looking forward to joining [President Biden], [Vice President Kamala Harris], and other leaders from the Western Hemisphere in Los Angeles for the Ninth #SummitAmericas,” U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken wrote on Twitter June 6. “We will discuss building a sustainable and resilient future with democracy that works for all the people of the hemisphere.”
Biden and Harris are expected to attend the summit with leaders from throughout North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean. Biden is slated to meet with summit attendees beginning Wednesday. The event runs until June 10.
This is the first time the summit will be held in the U.S. since 1994, when former President Bill Clinton convened the first meeting in Miami.
Clinton and fellow leaders in the Americas first brought together 34 democracies in the hemisphere to discuss a shared vision of the future. Leaders discussed strengthening democracy, promoting economic prosperity, and eradicating poverty and discrimination.
This will be the ninth summit. The conference meets once every three or four years and will address issues including immigration, climate, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s meetings will include Biden’s Build Back Better World initiative as a central point, and its theme of gender, health and health security, and digital connectivity, according to a senior State Department official.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was scheduled to join U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Kenneth Salazar, Consul General of Mexico in L.A. Ambassador Marcela Celorio, and Councilwoman Nithya Raman for the installation of the Wings of Mexico statue at Griffith Park at 4 p.m. June 6.
“We’re thrilled to host the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles and to welcome leaders from across the Western Hemisphere here to focus on our shared goal to secure a sustainable, resilient and equitable future for all our peoples,” Garcetti said in a statement.
The mayor’s office alerted airline passengers traveling to or from Los Angeles International Airport to expect rolling traffic impacts. Airline passengers were encouraged to follow @FlyLAXStats on Twitter for the latest updates on travel times.
The city also suggested commuters avoid traffic by staying away from the convention center areas between the 10 and the 101 freeways, and east of 110 in downtown Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Police Department estimated costs of an additional $3.1 million per day for extra staffing during the five-day event, totaling about $15.5 million, according to news reports.
As of Monday morning, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman told The Epoch Times it had not had any reports of protests or other issues related to the summit.
City News Service contributed to this report.