After several countries, including Mexico, threatened to boycott the Summit of the Americas, the US is lifting sanctions on countries it planned not to invite. Experts say through this pressure, Mexico seeks to assert itself as an influential country in the region, although this leadership may be ill-considered if used to defend countries accused of violating human rights.
Last week, López Obrador and former US Senator Christopher Dodd, who was appointed as special advisor to the IX Summit of the Americas, met virtually to discuss the president’s threat to skip the Summit if Cuba, Venezuela and Nicragua were not invited. Dodd previously said that Mexico’s leadership is needed at the summit because it is a key country in the region, as López Obrador stood by his warning.
“A summit of all the countries of the Americas is being convened in Los Angeles, but [the US] do not want to invite all the countries in the region. It is no longer a time for confrontation, it is a time for unity between peoples. With this division, nothing is gained. We have a good relationship with the US government, so we are optimistic,” said López Obrador.
Under pressure from threats to boycott the Summit of the Americas, which would reveal a regionally weak position for the US, President Joe Biden has begun lifting some of the country's toughest policies against Cuba and Venezuela. In the case of Cuba, the US will allow a greater flow of remittances and air travel. However, both remain limited, as the route for sending remittances is still complicated and travel will only be allowed through permits. In addition, the US will grant at least 20,000 visas to Cubans each year.
Meanwhile, for Venezuela, the US has announced that it will lift oil restrictions in an effort to encourage dialogue with President Nicolás Maduro. In addition, it will allow US oil companies to discuss possible future drilling with Venezuelan officials, which could then lead to the resumption of Venezuelan oil exports to the US.
So far, no changes have been announced in US-Nicaragua relationship, however.
Mario Alberto Huaracha, a UNAM-based political scientist, argued that with the threat of boycotting the summit, Mexico seeks to position itself as an ideological leader in Latin America and a defender of marginalized countries. "Above all, [López Obrador] seeks to ideologically position Mexico ias the head of a new Latin American left, consisting of the South and Central regions of the continent, as well as the Caribbean. He wants to raise Mexico’s profile."
Huaracha highlighted that Mexico’s position is not expected to affect the commercial or diplomatic relationship between with the US, as Biden relies on López Obrador to adress migration issues. However, other experts warned that Mexico will lose the opportunity to become a more strategic ally of the US. In addition, experts cautioned that the country could be considered to be on the “wrong side of history” for defending dictatorships widely accused of human rights violations.