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Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela’s Maduro government unlikely to be invited to regional summit: US


WASHINGTON: Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government are unlikely to be invited to the US-hosted Summit of the Americas to be held in June in Los Angeles, a senior State Department official said on Wednesday (Apr 27).

“They are unlikely to be there,” US Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols told a small group of reporters, saying the summit of regional leaders would focus on the Western Hemisphere’s democratic governments.

The comments marked the clearest message that those three governments, all on bad terms with Washington, will be snubbed once the White House announces the formal invitation list, which he said would happen soon.

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

Nichols also said there was unlikely to be a role for Maduro’s government at the 9th Summit of the Americas, but he said it would be up to the White House to decide whether to invite Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido in his place.

Washington and dozens of other countries have recognised Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader and shunned Maduro, a Socialist, after accusing him of rigging his 2018 reelection.

Relations have remained tense with Cuba’s Communist government under US President Joe Biden, whose administration has alleged human rights violations against Cubans who protested in widespread rallies on the island last July.

The United States has also been increasingly at odds with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla, who won a fourth consecutive term in November after jailing political rivals and cracking down on critical media.

“It’s clear Nicaragua has ceased any semblance of democracy in the wake of the sham election,” Nichols said.

Nichols offered no direct response when asked whether El Salvador might also be excluded but said “we are very much concerned by the erosion of democratic institutions” in the Central American country.

Irregular migration, a big challenge for Biden at the US-Mexico border, will be high on the agenda, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will figure into the discussions. The leaders are expected to talk about related global supply chain problems, rising energy costs and increased commodities and fertiliser prices, Nichols said.

Cuba participated in the 2015 summit in Panama and the 2018 gathering in Peru. Maduro was excluded in 2018 due to regional censure of his democratic record.

Nichols said at least 27 countries were expected to participate in the Jun 6-10 summit, which has been held every three or four years since 1994.

Regional heads of state and government normally attend, and Nichols signalled that was expected this time, saying that while formal invitations had not yet gone out he had seen a strong desire to participate.

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