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Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the upcoming Summit of the Americas, saying dictatorships should not be welcome as chaos continues to swirl around the Biden administration’s planning of the forum.
The 9th Summit of the Americas will be held in Los Angeles, California, starting Monday. The conference, which began in 1994, brings together countries from the Western Hemisphere in the Organization of American States and focuses on promoting pro-democracy values and coordination between heads of state and big business influential in the region.
Fox News spoke to President Duque about the upcoming summit in an exclusive interview Thursday, and the leader insisted that only democratic regimes should be allowed to participate.
“All members of the Organization of American States, we all stand for democracy. And if you want to be a member of the organization, you have to defend democracies. So I clearly believe that the Summit of the Americas will not be an instrument for undemocratic regimes to participate in in order to try to gain diplomatic legitimacy. I don’t think any dictatorship will participate in the Summit of the Americas,” he told Fox News.
Controversy around this year’s summit has grown because the Biden administration has yet to release a final list of invitees or a definitive agenda. Additionally, protests by Latin American immigrants are planned outside the event to protest autocratic leadership in some countries, such as Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, and others.
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Additionally, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has yet to say whether he will attend, has threatened to boycott the event if Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela are not invited.
In response to a question about President López saying the forum should be open to everyone, Duque disagreed.
“I’m not going to come into conflict with President López Obrador, I have a good relationship with him. But maybe if we don’t agree on that, I respectfully disagree because I think this forum is not a forum that dictatorships can participate in. It is clearly the value of democracy that has united the hemisphere,” Duque told Fox News.
“The Inter-American Democratic Charter that was signed on September 11, 2001 is the greatest accomplishment in diplomatic terms where we rejected any form of autocracy in the hemisphere. So it was not a forum for autocrats. It is a forum for people who clearly embrace the value of democracy.”
The Colombian president plans to focus on three major issues at the summit: migration, solutions to climate change and economic reactivation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duque touted a recent immigration milestone during his interview with Fox News, saying Colombia had granted one million Temporary Protected Status cards to Venezuelans entering the country. The President also underlined the opportunity that Colombia has to lead the way to the solution against climate change.
“I think an economic reactivation in the post-pandemic world is necessary. The United States can bring a lot of assets from their companies that were in Asia in order to be located close to the American market, but at the same time open employment opportunities for many people in Latin American countries, and I clearly believe that this will deter having a new migratory movement towards the southern border of the United States.
Sergio de la Peña, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Western Hemisphere affairs at the Pentagon and a retired US military officer, told Fox News he agreed with Duque on the that the forum should only accommodate democracies, and Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela do not meet this criterion. .
The summit generally deals with “security and prosperity” as fundamental principles, de la Peña said, and it was designed “to be an opportunity for leaders from across this hemisphere to come together to discuss issues of mutual concern. “.
He said it is the “prerogative of the host” to extend invitations to world leaders, but that in general it would have been appropriate for invitations to be sent at least three months in advance to world leaders. ‘State. Further, he said it was not helpful that the Biden administration had not released an agenda and should have set expectations for deliverables ahead of the summit.
The former defense official said that although it is the role of the host country to get the message across for the forum, “the strengthening of democracy is huge”.
“If you’ve seen the way the alignment of countries in the hemisphere has been taken lately, they’re going more to the left and in some cases that’s troubling,” he said, quoting the Bolivia and Chile as examples of states following a “model not very different from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.”
De la Peña continued, “I hope there is something positive that comes out of the summit. The United States is still the indispensable leader in this hemisphere. And the United States must project a level of confident leadership in the conduct of these summits. And there has to be a feeling that the United States is in control.”
Isaias Medina, one of the first Venezuelan diplomats to resign from his post in June 2017 in protest against the policies of dictator Nicolas Maduro, also told Fox News that the message of the summit should be “deterrence against rogue undemocratic nations”. .
Medina told Fox News, “To be intrusive at the top of the Americas, you absolutely have to blackball American oil companies. [that] continue to associate with Maduro’s Narco-Kleptocracy. The United States allowing Chevron to circumvent sanctions funds to a tyrannical gaslight dictatorship is no different than giving a blank check to Putin himself to use against Ukraine because that Maduro and Putin have joint accounts that are drying up the country. »
“The message of the Summit of the Americas should be a clear and unwavering deterrent against rogue undemocratic nations and their proxy militias, not just in word but in deed, as Venezuela accelerates its oil development with the help of Chevron – Hezbollah, ELN, and FARC celebrate as unseen guests of the Summit for instigating funds from Maduro’s criminal syndicate to raise terrorist organizations three hours from Miami Is putting money in Maduro’s pocket is in the best interests of the Americas?” continued Medina, who also worked as Minister Counselor at the Venezuelan Mission to the United Nations in New York.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked this week during the weekly press briefing about the final guest list and agenda for the summit, to which she replied that the administration ” still left our partners time to decide”.
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She continued: “As you see in the press articles, there have been quite a few heads of state who have confirmed via their own announcement. But again, you know, I always bring this back because what really important next week is that people across the region come together to address the major challenges facing people in the hemisphere. Okay. Including economic prosperity, climate change, crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. So there’s a range of issues for the region that we’d like to discuss. Those are priorities. They’re extremely important. And that’s what you’re going to see next week. “And others will confirm if they’re in. We’re not going to do that until we have a final list and give our partners the chance to decide.”
The press secretary also reportedly said Wednesday when asked why the White House hadn’t confirmed the details less than a week before the summit was to begin: “I think if you’ve been following this administration for a year and a half, a week isn’t the eleventh hour when it comes to the way things are moving, and so that’s a lifetime away for us as the White House.
Fox News also asked the State Department this week about the Biden administration’s possible invitation to a lower-level representative from Cuba and whether there was a plan in place to prevent a boycott by Mexico.
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State Department spokesman Ned Price responded that the administration is “confident” that it will have strong participation from Latin American countries and the private sector at the forum.
Price said: “We have been in close contact with many of our partners across the region. Again, without reading these discussions. We are confident that the summit will represent – the countries will be representative of the opportunities and challenges we face together as partners in the Americas.
Fox News’ Nicholas Kalman contributed to this report.