Top US diplomat: Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua won’t be invited to Summit of the Americas

The State Department’s top diplomat for the Western Hemisphere said he doesn’t expect to see representatives from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua at June’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

In a clip from an interview with Western Hemisphere Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols on Monday, NTN24 anchor Gustau Alegret asked the diplomat whether the United States would invite leaders of the three countries to the upcoming summit.

“Cuba, Nicaragua, the [Nicolás] Maduro regime [in Venezuela] do not respect the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and therefore I don’t expect their presence,” replied Nichols.

Alegret followed up by asking whether Cuba, whose leaders attended the 2015 edition of the summit, would be invited.

“No,” replied Nichols. “It’s the president’s decision, but I think the president has been very clear about the presence of countries that by their actions do not respect democracy — they will not receive invitations.”

While the potential absence of the Venezuelan regime and of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega are less controversial — the United States does not formally recognize Maduro and Ortega’s 2021 reelection is widely viewed as fraudulent — excluding Cuba is likely to rub many Latin American countries the wrong way.

Cuban Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Carlos F. de Cossío last week was sharply critical of the U.S.’s management of invitations to the regional summit.

“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,” Cossío told The Hill in an exclusive interview.

Historically, host countries have had trouble navigating the presence of both Cuba and the United States at summits, particularly as U.S. diplomats have labored to avoid a direct encounter between the island’s communist leaders and past U.S. presidents.

But Latin American countries have often fought to include Cuba, a country many in the region view as unfairly targeted and punished by its powerful northern neighbor.

While the United States as host has made no overtures to Cuba, Nicaragua or the Maduro regime, it had not officially — until Nichols’ interview — said it would withhold invitations.

Still, some Latin American leaders have publicly voiced their displeasure that the three countries might not be invited.

The loudest voice in that regard has been Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who on Friday held a call with President Biden where they discussed the Summit of the Americas, among other things.

López Obrador on Monday said he’d “respectfully proposed” to Biden that all countries in the Americas should be invited to the summit, and Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard is due in Washington late Monday to discuss bilateral issues including the summit.

The full interview with Nichols is slated to air on NTN24 tonight.

Updated at 3:27 p.m.

Tags Andrés Manuel López Obrador Cuba Daniel Ortega Nicaragua Summit of the Americas Venezuela

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