“It’s going to reveal in many ways that his ability to lead the rest of Latin America is simply not there,” said Tony Payan, a Mexico expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “It aligns Mexico against its own interests with what is really three, rather small, impoverished, dictatorial nations. In the end, Mexico is giving up a valuable seat at the table.”
Mr. López Obrador’s announcement follows weeks of negotiations during which Washington has sought to convince regional leaders to attend the summit. In the case of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Alberto Fernández of Argentina, the negotiations apparently succeeded, with both leaders confirming their attendance despite some initial skepticism.
Still, Mr. López Obrador is not alone in boycotting the event.
In addition to Mexico, Honduras has announced that it would be represented by its foreign minister at the summit, and not President Xiomara Castro. The participation of Bolivia also remains in doubt after President Luis Arce also vowed to boycott the event unless all countries in the region were allowed to attend.
And the president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, announced last month that he would not attend the meeting after the State Department barred the Central American nation’s attorney general from entering the United States “due to her involvement in significant corruption.”
The bickering over the participation of states like Venezuela and Nicaragua, countries rife with human rights abuses, as well as the snub from Mexico’s president, will likely add to criticism of the summit as a whole, and reignite speculation over whether a meeting of such disparate interests is worthwhile.
In an opinion essay published in the Los Angeles Times last week, Dan Restrepo, President Barack Obama’s Latin America adviser, argued that “the Summit of the Americas is a fatally flawed forum that doesn’t serve its purpose and limits our country’s focused attention on its closest neighbors to a once-every-three-years event.”
In the lead-up to the summit, Washington announced several priorities for the meeting, including tackling climate change and corruption. However, there has been no mention of new trade initiatives for a region battered by the coronavirus pandemic, with officials instead promising to build on existing trade agreements.