Monday, January 24, 2022

Summit of the Americas

Message to Vice President Harris   June 7, 2022

Dear Vice President Harris,

The Biden Administration has created a self-inflicted wound about participation in the Summit of the Americas by reversing the decision at the Cartagena Summit ten years ago.

From the closing statement of President Santos, the Colombian host of Summit VI:

"Respect and tolerance for differences indicate that we are a mature region with enormous potential to carry out ambitious projects such as those consigned in the mandates of the VI Summit which had as its motto: 'Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity'

Most countries support Cuba's participation in the Summits of the Americas Process and they vowed to make this purpose a reality starting at the next Summit."

The only way out I can see out of this embarrassing situation is no doubt fantasy--for the President or you to surprise your audience by acknowledging the deeply felt differences over inclusion and, underlying that, between the US and every other country present, over our unilateral embargo of Cuba. 

If one of you pledged to respect their viewpoint and use executive authority and leadership with Congress to ameliorate and terminate the embargo, you can neutralize anger about Summit participation.  

You will also bring real benefit to the lives of all Cubans and create an atmosphere for internally driven reform, potentially removing the issue of inclusion from the next Summit.  

Has it been announced who will host the tenth Summit?  What will have been gained if the US Pyrrhic victory of successful exclusion is turned around in three years?

I have developed this point in posts to the State Department and White House that can be seen here 


John McAuliff

Nested messages to Assistant Secretary of State Nichols,  Secretary of State Blinken and President Biden   June 7, 2022

Dear Mr. Assistant Secretary,

You are no doubt in Los Angeles, without time or inclination to read this message.  However, I wanted to share my somewhat expanded thoughts as sent to Secretary Blinken below. 

I know that a bold and historic move by the President to seize the initiative is unlikely to say the least.  However, as someone who tries to understand both sides of the US-Cuba conflict, I despair that each country has retreated to its position of self-righteous and self-satisfied ideology.

In addition to old school polemics, the latest MinRex statement has elements that could be built on:
One cannot speak of “The Americas” without including all the countries of the hemisphere.  Our region demands cooperation, not exclusion; solidarity, not meanness; respect, not arrogance; sovereignty and self-determination, not subordination....

We are also fully confident that the leaders of the region, who choose to attend, will argue with dignity that the United States cannot treat our peoples as they used to in the 20th century. 

Cuba supports the genuine efforts to promote integration throughout the hemisphere based on civilized coexistence, peace, respect for diversity and solidarity. Cuba has a widely acknowledged record of unreserved support and contribution to all legitimate proposals for actual and concrete solutions to the most pressing problems faced by our peoples. The reality we are presented with today is far from such aspirations.
These words of Ned Price yesterday also were both heartening and discouraging: 
as the host of the summit, we do have wide discretion in terms of invitations. We greatly value the diversity of opinions that we’ve heard from our neighbors in the hemisphere about participation in the summit, what that should look like,....

We, again, recognize and respect the position of our allies in supporting – in support of inclusive dialogue. We also note, as I have, that non-governmental representatives will be in attendance from Cuba, from Venezuela, and from Nicaragua.
As you will no doubt learn this week in Los Angeles, hearing without responding is seen as an exercise of discretion that is arrogant and patronizing.  It also is self-delusional to think inclusiveness is met through our hand picked Cuban dissidents.  That is like Russia or China inviting American Marxist-Leninist parties to a conference and claiming the US is represented.

Let the sun break through the LA smog


John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Dear Secretary Blinken,
Ned Price spoke of your personal involvement into Sunday night about the issue of participation in the Summit.  He also noted today, "We will continue to have an opportunity to discuss the issues that are at the heart of this summit with those partners."
Choosing ideological exclusion has guaranteed that participation and thus US relations with Cuba will be a major topic of this Summit and its historical record.  What else is remembered from Cartagena?
Based on your strong expression of principle against spheres of influence regarding Russia and Ukraine, I am assuming you were on the inclusion side of the argument within the Biden Administration.
In any case I believe there is only one way now to save the atmosphere of the Summit and advance US interests in the Hemisphere.
In his opening speech, the President should acknowledge the underlying problem of the universally opposed US embargo of Cuba.  He can unite with every nation in the room and say with integrity that ending the embargo has the best chance to foster self-directed change in Cuba and to improve the living conditions of its people.  Hopefully that will remove the dispute about participation from the next Summit where a different decision is likely.  (It also stops Cuba's deflection to the US of responsibility for many of its problems.)
Following is a message to the White House I posted this morning.
John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development
Dear Mr. President,
Whoever advised you to blow off our region and exclude Cuba from the Summit of the Americas should be fired.
If Bloomberg's report is correct that the decision is made, you have compromised a major Hemispheric event and the reputation of the US. by giving priority to domestic inertia, ideology and politics. 
Attitudinally, the US is behaving toward Cuba with the same hegemonism as Russia exhibits to Ukraine.  Our double standards and historical insularity in the Americas constrains even the appeal of our righteous cause in Europe and benefits only China's agenda in our Hemisphere.
You had begun to honor your campaign promises to restore engagement with Cuba and deserve full appreciation for those steps once they are actually accomplished. 
However, you need to pivot from the embarrassment of Los Angeles just as President Obama did from his isolation at the Cartagena Summit and finish the job of full normalization.
You could regain ground if your speech in Los Angeles accepts the conflict about participation and includes commitment to put aside real political differences with Cuba, just as we do with Vietnam. 
Imagine the healing impact if you pledge to respect universal opinion in the hemisphere and the world by ending the embargo through all possible executive action and leadership with Congress. 
Only in that way can you hope to achieve your legitimate goals of greater freedom and democracy.
I believe in you as President but fear you have been badly served by your advisors.
John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development


"Experts: Summit of Americas may erode regional relations"  By LIU YINMENG in Los Angeles | CHINA DAILY

"Exclusion of countries from Americas Summit a 'mistake,' says Chilean president"


Letter from John McAuliff to Secretary Blinken and President Biden

Dear Secretary Blinken,

After the breakthrough of the migration talks, I was deeply disappointed by the Associated Press report that Assistant Secretary Nichols believes the US will bar Cuba from the Summit of the Americas. 

As AP wrote, "The decision to exclude Cuba’s communist government would seem to dampen hopes for some sort of reconciliation following four years of escalating tensions with the Trump administration."

The Assistant Secretary is correct that Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua "are considered by most of the countries in the region to be undemocratic" but that is irrelevant.  Remember how isolated the US was at the Colombia Summit and the good will expressed in Panama?  The Hemisphere is all of the Hemisphere.  Its identity is not a token for US political interests.  

Since he noted “The White House will determine who is invited,”, I have just posted this to the White House contact system:

Dear Mr. President,

According to the Associated Press the White House will decide soon whether the Summit of the Americas abandons its inclusive character.

It is demeaning to the Summit and to the US government for domestic politics to compromise the vital multilateral agenda of this event:
"In the letter, [Florida Republican] lawmakers also called on Biden to prohibit representatives from the regimes of Miguel Díaz-Canel in Cuba, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua from attending the Summit." 
The blame for an historic reversal will fall entirely on the Biden Administration.  Cuba's Vice Minister de Cossio discussed the Summit very positively in this post migration meeting interview with Dr. Arturo Lopez-Levy (at 15:35)
US back-sliding on the Summit is not only damaging in the Hemisphere but will also affect US efforts to maintain and broaden the coalition opposed to Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine. 
Is satisfying your opponents who seek to use US policy for parochial self-interest worth sabotaging the purpose of the Summit?    Despite legitimate US criticism of Cuba's authoritarian political system, do we dispute that country is highly regarded in the Americas and worldwide for its commitment to the Summit's goals of "Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future"?

By overreaching ideologically to exclude Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, the US significantly diminished its support from 141 to 93 votes.  Do we want to risk alienating from the established Summit process the governments of Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Honduras, Costa Rica, Peru, possibly by then Colombia, as well as several Caribbean countries, not to mention the likely next leader of Brazil? 
A non-inclusive Summit directly contravenes Secretary Blinken's high minded anti-Russian principle against "spheres of influence where one country subjugates its neighbors to its will". 


John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development


Because of character limits I deleted this from my letter to the President:

Florida Republicans U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Giménez, Maria Elvira Salazar and Mike Waltz signed the letter


John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development 


Cuba denounces expected Summit of the Americas snub by US

Cuban Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Carlos Cossío sits down with The Hill at his residence in Maryland on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
Greg Nash
Cuban Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Carlos Cossío sits down with The Hill at his residence in Maryland on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

Cuban Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Carlos Cossío sits down with The Hill at his residence in Maryland on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

The Cuban government says the Biden administration is trying to pick and choose the guest list for the upcoming Summit of the Americas, a hemispheric meeting of heads of state scheduled to take place in Los Angeles in June.

“We have denounced that the United States as the host country is feeling it has the privilege to invite who it wants and who it doesn’t want, and still call it a Summit of the Americas,” Cuban Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Carlos F. de Cossío told The Hill in an exclusive interview.

“The United States intends to hold a summit of friends who are capable of listening to what the United States says, accept the U.S. agenda, and replicate what the U.S. says,” Cossío added.

The summits, held formally since 1994, are a way for leaders to meet periodically and discuss regional issues.

Cuba’s participation in past summits has at times led to friction between the United States and Latin American host countries.

In 2015, U.S. officials tried unsuccessfully to pressure Panama to refrain from inviting then-Cuban head of state Raúl Castro, and in 2002, former Mexican President Vicente Fox was embarrassed on the world stage when Cuban officials published a recording of him clumsily asking Fidel Castro to “eat and leave” to avoid an in-person encounter with then-President George W. Bush.

While Cuba has not always been a willing participant in regional politics — the island has mostly snubbed the Organization of American States after the regional body lifted a decades-long suspension — the Caribbean country’s officials are pushing to be included in the upcoming summit.

“If they want a summit that really deals with the most relevant issues in the region, the issues that most affect the populations of the region in the context of the problems and issues in the region, it should be an inclusive summit,” said Cossío, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel’s envoy for migratory talks with the Biden administration.

“And the United States should not fear engaging in dialogue over topics, even when they can seem conflictive for them, or even when others may have notions or visions or impressions that are different from those held by the United States,” he added.

The Cuban push to participate in the multilateral agenda comes as the Biden administration grapples with shared issues across the Florida Strait, particularly migration, and a wish to avoid the political blowback that dogged the Obama administration’s rapprochement policy toward the island.

The White House is keen to hold a smooth-sailing summit, the first since the 2018 event in Peru, which former President Trump refused to attend, sending then-Vice President Pence in his stead.

Cuba’s president at the time, Raúl Castro, also declined to attend following Trump’s announcement and an agreement to bar Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro from the summit.

But the Biden administration’s current silence over the potential attendance of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua could backfire as other Latin American countries call for broad inclusion at the summit.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard earlier this month said, “Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua are part of the Americas and should be there,” and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was expected to raise the issue in a phone call with Biden Friday.

Ebrard is due in Washington Monday, in part to discuss planning for the Summit of the Americas.

The Biden administration’s case for not inviting Venezuela and Nicaragua could be an easier sell than any intent to exclude Cuba.

The U.S. does not officially recognize the Maduro government, and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in January was sworn in for a fourth consecutive term in power after a 2021 presidential election widely seen as fraudulent.

But policy toward Cuba has historically been a point of contention between the United States and Latin American leaders, many of whom view the continued economic blockade of the island as an excessively heavy-handed approach by the region’s top power.

According to Cossío, other regional leaders have also privately expressed their discomfort with the possible absence of Cuba.

“If this summit becomes a photo show so the United States can say it summoned the presidents and prime ministers of the region to debate an agenda conceived by the United States for the United States and with the ideas that the United States wants to promote for its internal political needs, the summit becomes a failure, the summit becomes a sterile exercise,” Cossío said.

Still, the Biden administration has reason to tread carefully in dealing with Cuba, a perpetual hot potato in U.S. domestic politics.

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), the Cuban American chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, scoffed at the idea of letting Cuba participate in June’s summit.

“That is like inviting the fox into the hen house. The Summit is an opportunity for democracies—not authoritarian thugs—from across the hemisphere to forge an agenda that advances our shared prosperity and democratic values. It’s also a space for us to sharpen our collective diplomatic efforts to prevent entrenched tyrants from Moscow to Havana from further spreading their poison throughout the Americas,” Menendez told The Hill.

And Republicans will be quick to pounce on any whiff of rapprochement between Biden and the Díaz-Canel government.

“I’m not surprised an official of the Cuban regime thinks they should be invited to participate in the Summit of the Americas, especially after the Biden administration hosted migration talks with the dictatorship,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told The Hill.

Cossío this month met with State Department and Homeland Security Department officials to discuss potential normalization of a 2017 migratory agreement with the United States.

While the talks didn’t lead to any new agreements, steps were taken toward a return to the U.S. commitment to process 20,000 visas per year for Cuban emigrants in Havana, and for Cuba to accept U.S. repatriation flights.

Still, the administration’s approach to Cuba is a far cry from former President Obama’s all-in push to shake up the sclerotic, Cold War-era state of bilateral affairs.

“The Trump government deliberately and energetically backtracked on the advances that had taken place between the two countries. For that, it relied on fabricated excuses,” said Cossío.

“The current government doesn’t repeat those excuses, but it’s incapable of modifying the actions taken by virtue of those attitudes,” he added.

While the Biden administration has not repeated some of the more incendiary claims levied against Cuba by Trump and officials in his administration, Republicans and Democrats are for the most part on the same page regarding Cuba’s human rights record.

“The only people who should represent Cuba in the Summit are political prisoners, prisoners of conscience and opposition leaders who truly represent the voices of the Cuban people who continue to endure the hardships of living under a brutal Communist regime,” Rubio said.

From a political standpoint, however, the risks for Democrats to engage Cuba have lessened somewhat since Obama visited the island in 2016.

Historically, both parties have trodden carefully in engaging Cuba, seeking not to anger the politically powerful Cuban American community in Florida.

But Republicans have all but become the hegemonic party in Florida, a reality that hasn’t been missed by officials in Havana.

“I get the impression that Democrats lose in Florida no matter what. Democrats should not continue justifying their political failures in Florida with Cuba. Cuba is not the cause why they fail politically in Florida,” Cossío said, adding that a variety of causes have contributed to Florida’s GOP turn.

Still, said Cossío, Cuba needs to engage with the United States because of the proximity of both countries, and the importance of the U.S. on the world stage.

“We can’t ignore what happens in the United States, and we know we need to deal with whichever government the U.S. electorate chooses or selects,” he said.

Cossío added that it’s become more difficult to find interlocutors in both parties to resolve issues of mutual interest, even without engaging in deeper debates about either countries’ political systems.

“The polarization today in U.S. domestic politics affects that, in the same way it affects foreign policy. It affects ties with NATO, it affects ties with Europe, it affects ties with Cuba,” Cossío said


US unlikely to invite Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela to summit



MIAMI (AP) — The Biden administration is unlikely to invite the leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba to the upcoming Summit of the Americas, a senior State Department official said Wednesday while sidestepping questions about an eventual role for Venezuela’s opposition leader at the gathering of hemispheric leaders.

The summit, to take place in Los Angeles in early June, will focus on defending democracy and human rights in the Western Hemisphere as well as addressing irregular migration, climate change and efforts to ensure equitable growth as the region emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols told reporters.

The top U.S. diplomat in the Western Hemisphere said invitations had yet to be sent but ventured that neither Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega or Cuba’s Miguel Diaz-Canel would make the cut and are considered by most of the countries in the region to be undemocratic.

“They are unlikely to be there,” he said.

When pressed, Nichols refused to say whether opposition leader Juan Guaidó — who the U.S. recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate leader in 2019 — would be asked to attend, saying only that a decision would be made “soon.”

“The White House will determine who is invited,” Nichols said.

The intrigue over Guaidó’s role comes as the Biden administration has made tentative steps to re-engage what Nichols called the Maduro “regime.” In March, three senior U.S. officials, including the National Security Council’s Juan Gonzalez, traveled secretly to Caracas to meet with Maduro. The visit was partly prompted by U.S. National Security concerns in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has renewed interest in Venezuela, a close Russian ally that sits atop the world’s largest petroleum reserves.

Maduro reciprocated by freeing two American prisoners and promising to resume negotiations with his opponents. However, amid a backlash of criticism from hardliner exiles and even some Democrats, the backchanneling has yet to produce any concrete results.

Nichols said that the U.S. remains committed to bringing Maduro back to the negotiating table with his opponents but didn’t comment when asked whether inviting Guaidó would advance or hinder that goal.

“The democratic situation in Venezuela is an issue that we’ll obviously talk about and address at the summit but I’d ask for your patience while we wait for the White House to take a decision on how that invitation will be managed,” he said.

The decision to exclude Cuba’s communist government would seem to dampen hopes for some sort of reconciliation following four years of escalating tensions with the Trump administration.

President Barack Obama invited Cuba’s Raul Castro to the summit in 2015 as part of a quiet, sustained effort to improve relations between the two Cold War adversaries and Cuba’s foreign minister attended the last gathering, in Peru, in 2018, which then President Donald Trump skipped.

The Biden administration has taken a similarly harsh stance against Ortega, whose re-election last year to a fourth term Nichols called a “sham” after numerous of his rivals were jailed.

The U.S. is hosting the Summit of the Americas first the first time since 1994, when President Bill Clinton hosted regional leaders in Miami to push for a free trade agreement stretching from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.

But with that ambitious goal abandoned long ago amid a rise in leftist, anti-American politics in several parts of the region, many experts have questioned the need for an expensive gathering of more than 30 heads of state each pushing their own bilateral agenda with Washington but often cooperating little amongst themselves.

The region in recent years has diversified its trade and diplomatic ties and the U.S. has largely stood by as Russia, China, Iran and other foreign powers hostile to the U.S. have gained influence.

Nichols praised the region for mostly joining the U.S. in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But he said massive supply chain disruptions triggered by the conflict had stirred concerns in the region about the future of energy and food supplies.

“How do we address that to make sure that the people of our hemisphere can afford the food that they need to put on their table every night?” Nichols said. “These are crucial issues and that’s why our leaders are coming together.”

Follow Goodman on Twitter: @APJoshGoodman


Cuba says U.S. planning to exclude it from Summit of the Americas


Dave Sherwood  Reuters

APR 25, 2022 10:53AM EDT

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Monday that the United States had decided to exclude Cuba from preparations for a summit of regional leaders, a setback for relations just days after the long-time rivals held their first high level talks in four years.

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By Dave Sherwood

HAVANA, April 25 (Reuters) - Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Monday that the United States had decided to exclude Cuba from preparations for a summit of regional leaders, a setback for relations just days after the long-time rivals held their first high level talks in four years.

Rodriguez said that the United States was pressuring regional governments to block Cuba from participating in the Summit of the Americas in June in Los Angeles.

"The government of the United States has decided to exclude Cuba from the preparations for the 9th Summit of the Americas," Rodriguez told reporters.

"I respectfully call on Secretary of State (Antony) Blinken to say, in an honest way, if Cuba will be invited or not to the 9th Summit of the Americas."

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Rodriguez's statement.

Cuba participated in both the 2015 and 2018 summits, after allying governments pressured for their inclusion, but had not previously attended the summits.

Rodriguez, in a televised address to reporters in Havana, acknowledged some "positive signs" emanating from the United States, including last week's talks between Cuba and U.S. officials in Washington to discuss a surge in Cuban migrants arriving at the U.S. border with Mexico.

Those talks, however, did not yield fresh agreements to deal with the burgeoning crisis.

Communist-run Cuba has maintained that the United States is seeking to foment strife and suffering on the island by tightening Cold War-era sanctions to create economic hardship while at the same time throwing up barriers to migration.

The island's government has demanded the United States issue more visas and restore consular services in Havana for Cubans wishing to travel to the United States.

The U.S. embassy in Havana in 2017 slashed staffing and moved visa services for Cubans wishing to travel to the United States to third countries, including Guyana, in South America, after some of its workers began to complain of unexplained health problems.

The number of Cuban migrants arriving at the border with the United States has recently spiked amid economic crisis in Cuba, nearly doubling in March over the previous month.

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood Editing by Alistair Bell)



Florida Republicans Call on Joe Biden to Invite Maduro Regime Opponent to the Summit of the Americas


 Florida Daily

April 22, 2022, 9:00 am

This week, Republicans in the Florida congressional delegation sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to invite Juan Guaidó, the democratically-elected President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, to attend the Summit of the Americas, which the United States will host in Los Angeles the week of June 6-10, 2022.

In the letter, the lawmakers also called on Biden to prohibit representatives from the regimes of Miguel Díaz-Canel in Cuba, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua from attending the Summit. Additionally, the lawmakers urged Biden to support the passage of the bicameral, bipartisan “Banning Operations and Leases with the Illegitimate Venezuelan Authoritarian Regime (BOLIVAR) Act,” which would prohibit federal agencies from doing business with anyone that supports the Maduro regime.

Florida Republicans U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Giménez, Maria Elvira Salazar and Mike Waltz signed the letter which is below.

Dear President Biden:

As you announced earlier this year, the United States will host the ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California during the week of June 6-10, 2022. This will be the first Summit of the Americas hosted in the United States since the very first Summit in 1994, which was held in Miami, Florida.

Unfortunately, in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, we are seeing our enemies like Communist China, Russia and Iran stepping in and propping up totalitarian leaders in their effort to destabilize the region. America needs to be a leading voice for freedom, democracy, the rule of law, human rights and good governance in our hemisphere. Having spent years representing Floridians and the millions of Hispanic-Americans who call the Sunshine State home, we fully understand the importance of this Summit in achieving that goal.

That’s why, today, we write to urge that you invite Juan Guaidó, the democratically-elected President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, to attend the Summit. President Guaidó is the legitimate, democratically elected leader of Venezuela and he represents the interests of freedom-loving Venezuelans who are fed up with Nicolás Maduro’s tyranny, oppression and genocide. President Guaidó and representatives of his government deserve a seat at the Summit, while dictator Maduro certainly does not.

It is critically important that we do not allow the Summit to legitimize the tyrants in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. The United States must prohibit representatives from the illegitimate regimes of Miguel Díaz-Canel in Cuba, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua from attending the Summit. These men are dictators who are starving their own people, jailing political dissidents and cracking down on peaceful protests. Welcoming these evil and illegitimate leaders, or the representatives of their sham governments, to the United States would be nothing short of gross appeasement that hurts the movements for freedom and democracy in these nations.

We have been very outspoken about the threats posed to the United States and our fellow democratic nations by totalitarian and corrupt enemies, like Maduro, Ortega and the illegitimate communist regime in Cuba – and the horrific human rights abuses occurring at their direction. These regimes have failed to uphold the basic principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and have forfeited a position at the Summit.

During the Summit, we urge you to highlight the fights of democracy activists like José Daniel Ferrer, who has been unjustly imprisoned and tortured by thugs in Cuba for almost nine months, while artists, musicians and even children were imprisoned following the July 11 protests. Further, we believe that the United States should use the Summit to highlight how adversaries, like Russia, Communist China and Iran, support and collaborate with these gross regimes to destabilize the region, promote socialism and bolster Marxist-terrorist groups like FARC.

Finally, ahead of the Summit, we urge you to support the passage of the Banning Operations and Leases with the Illegitimate Venezuelan Authoritarian Regime (BOLIVAR) Act, which would prohibit federal agencies from doing business with anyone that supports the oppressive Maduro regime. Under no circumstances should we lift sanctions on Maduro or his thugs, and there is no world in which it makes sense to purchase Venezuelan oil. The BOLIVAR Act, led by Senator Scott and Congressman Waltz, is a bicameral, bipartisan bill that was unanimously approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in March 2021. This good bill deserves your full support, and signing it into law ahead of the Summit would send a strong message of American leadership.

We must be clear and unapologetic in standing up to the thugs who are oppressing the people of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. Within all applicable rules and regulations, we encourage you to use this unique opportunity to strongly show America’s unwavering support for freedom and democracy across the Western Hemisphere.


Background Press Call By Senior Administration Officials On the Summit of the Americas

JANUARY 20, 2022

And then the last but not least is ­ continuing on the theme of the democracy summit from December ­ is helping to ­ making democracy deliver in the Americas.  And that goes beyond the, kind of, abstract debates of representative and participatory democracy and really getting at the issues of disinformation as a challenge in the region, issues of protecting the work of journalists and also independent prosecutors that are combating corruption ­ corruption being a cross-cutting theme for us, but one that is central to the health of our ­ and vibrancy of our democracies. 


We’ve worked to promote a negotiated outcome in Venezuela, where, you know, really, through a very close alignment of the White House and the State Department promoting a peaceful and negotiated resolution to the crisis in Venezuela, has ­ it has helped bring together the international community, including the European Union, in favor of a negotiated outcome that would lead to free and fair elections. 

And, obviously, we’re going to stay the course.  And we see that as really the best way forward to empower the Venezuelan people to determine their own future.

And then, what I would say is ­ just as a cross-cutting issue for the hemisphere, and we look at issues of democracy backsliding and issues of economic and social rights in corrupt ­ in combating corruption.  We have made making democracy deliver ­ or renewing the consensus ­ the hemispheric consensus in favor of democracy, really, a top priority. 

A lot of that really has been a change in tone from the last four years where we’ve focused much less on where leaders lie on the political spectrum and more on how they are elected and how they govern to ensure that we’re really focused on democratic governance as an issue of ­ around which we are galvanizing regional action. 


And then lastly, you know, obviously the situation in Cuba ­ the direction that the President has been to be tough on the regime, but soft on the Cuban people.  And that approach has led us to ­ after the July 11th protests ­ to really raise the profile of those individuals that have been responsible for the for the brutal crackdown. 

We’ve imposed individual sanctions on Cuba Security Force officials with the Canadian, UK, and EU support and, at the same time, prioritized the delivery of food, medicine, and humanitarian supplies to the Cuban people.  And then expanded our support for tools to avoid censorship so that Cubans can communicate to from and among each other.  As they demand greater freedoms.  


And second question: Cuba participated for the first time in this Summit of the Americas in the summit in Panama.  It was not invited in Peru’s.  But I was wondering if the United States is likely to invite the Cuban regime to the summit. 

And also, what’s going to happen with Nicaragua and Venezuela?

Thank you.

Q    Great.  Thanks, Gustau.

So, the second question is easier to answer.  We have not yet made decisions on what the invitation list will look like.  And we want to have that conversation with the countries of the region.

I think that ­ I think the operating assumption is that we look forward to welcoming the democratically elected leaders of the Organization of American States to the summit. 


We’re not asking the countries of the region to choose between the United States and China. 

Any country that is investing in the economic prosperity, security, and social wellbeing of the countries of the region are advancing U.S. national security interests and are welcome, as far as we’re concerned. 

Also, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are not chess pieces on a board but rather, you know, independent nations that will make decisions based on their own national security interests. 

And for us to be competitive in that space, we have to be present, we have to be active, and that, by definition, is an affirmative agenda. 

I will put just a finer point on this ­ is that, for the United States, you know, recognizing that our ties with the Americas, whether they’re geographic, familial, economic, or, frankly, value-based, are a source of U.S. prosperity, diversity, and resilience.

We’re the only hemisphere in the world where there are not interstate conflicts.  It is a region that is relatively at peace.  And that is something that has been a strategic reservoir for the United States. 

So, the security and prosperity of our neighbors has incredibly important implications for us.  And as such, though, the region’s economic prosperities, as democracies ­ so, meaning, their democratic ­ their democratic development ­ for us is a national security interest. 

It’s such ­ our policy toward the Western Hemisphere is really predicated on the region’s democratic development, in their self-determination of democracies as essentially ­ as essential to our ability to address a widening range of global challenges and opportunities. 

Why is that relevant to China is that, for us, the issue of democratic self-determination is emblematic, and those countries that are supporting authoritarian leaders are working against this ­ these goals.  And so, that’s where I think I would identify areas of tension or disagreement that, for us, it’s really not about any sort of system of government but rather one where the citizens of the region get to determine the future and not autocratic leaders that are using violence and oppression.  And I think that’s where you see the distinction between the United States and China, in that regard. 


Q    Hello.  Thank you for doing this.  I’d like to know specifically if you expect Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to participate in the summit.

And also, yesterday, President Biden said that you’re having trouble ­ “great difficulty,” he said ­ making up for the mistakes that were made the last ­ in the last four years.  What are those mistakes that were made in the last administration, in regards to Latin America?  Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you for the question.  So, look, on Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela ­ so, again, we don’t have like a formal position to announce, but I’ll just restate what I said to Gustau, which is: We look forward to welcoming the democratically-elected leaders of the Western Hemisphere, given just this affirmation of democratic values and the need to have democracies debate some of these issues. 

But, again, we, as the host, have a lot of ­ I think, decide, ultimately, who will be invited.  But we’re going to consult with the countries of the Organization of American States as the Secretary for the summit. 


But as a Latin Americanist [redacted], I think the ­ perhaps the biggest mistake of the previous administration was that ­ was to divide the region into those who were either “those who agreed with us” and “those who were our enemies.” 

And I think that that really ignores the diversity that represents the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.  I think that is something that we’ve been able to come back from by simply a change in tone ­ to say that we may not agree with the country but we’re willing to find common ground.  If you really focus on pursuing shared interests, then there’s no ­ then you can always find common ground with other countries.  You know, whether or not we agree with everything that the government of Bolivia has done, we think we can find ways to work together and to improve that relationship. 

The reason that Jake Sullivan traveled to Brazil and Argentina was to show that we work ­ we look to work actively with countries across the political spectrum.  And people have ­ people have taken note that we have taken a very different approach.

Q    Thank you so much for having the call, [senior administration official].  Really appreciate it.  We had talked a bit about ­ a good amount about corruption here and the expectation for, you know, democratic ­ and for the integrity in governance when it comes to these partnerships. 

I’m just wondering how much of that will factor into who gets invited to this summit?  I know that you haven’t finalized it yet.  But at this point, I mean, is the United States open to inviting officials from somewhere like Guatemala, where there has been undermining of prosecutors in the region, or El Salvador, where, as you said, you know, there was targeting on social media of an ambassador at that point. 


SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  No, that’s an excellent question.  Look on the participation one: Again, not ­ I can’t offer too much, just because we don’t have a position.  I want to make that clear, as (inaudible) to report on it. 

But I think that anybody who was in ­ elected democratically will be invited to the summit.  And that ­ I think there’s no question that the president of Guatemala will be invited to the summit, that the president of El Salvador will be invited to the summit. 

And again, as ­ that is because if we only invite the people who agree with us, then we’re not really going to be having a debate but rather preaching to the choir. 

And as somebody who, you know, has worked on Latin America and the Caribbean with President Joe Biden dating back to 2012, 2013, he does not shy away from these debates and, I think, looks forward to engaging personally and debating with leaders on these matters of corruption, not from a point of, you know, kind of preach- ­ kind of imposing or finger-wagging, but rather ones where, frankly, on matters of democracy, we are also facing some of these challenges.

I’ll go to countries like Brazil ­ and questions about democratic governance.  You know, there is such a long democratic tradition in Brazil, and the institutions have been so robust that it really doesn’t matter who the leader is today and tomorrow.  There’s a lot that Brazil can teach the rest of the hemisphere, including the United States, on matters of democracy, social jus- ­ social and racial justice. 

And so, we want to have those debates out in the open as ­ between leaders, but also having civil society, Indigenous peoples, and others, you know, making very clear demands of governments, and that includes our very robust and raucous civil society to, you know, make demands of us.

So, I think it’ll be a very exciting ­ and hopefully, it is a kind of robust component of the agenda. 


Three statements in the above struck me:

1)  The ignorance of one of the journalists, Gustau: "Cuba participated for the first time in this Summit of the Americas in the summit in Panama.  It was not invited in Peru’s.

As you know, Cuba like the US and half a dozen other countries was not represented by its President, but sent the Foreign Minister.  Its exclusion from this Summit will inescapably be a step backwards from even Trump.

2)  "the direction that the President has been to be tough on the regime, but soft on the Cuban people"  

Really? Self-delusion or spin? What about prolonging Trump/Bolton/Claver-Carone assaults on remittances, gifts, people to people travel and exchanges, flights to regional cities, hotel use (and therefore tips), etc. 

3)  "the operating assumption is that we look forward to welcoming the democratically elected leaders of the Organization of American States" 

Do we really want to get into an argument about definitions of democratic process in different countries, especially when ours is under such stress.  The Summit is explicitly not the same thing as the OAS.   It is also no longer the Summit of the Countries We Like in the Americas. 

Our theme should be that despite ideological differences, all the countries of the Americas have interests in common, not least transnational problems like environment and drugs.

--John McAuliff