President Biden sends a message to backers of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua (Opinion)

President Biden, send a message to backers of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua at summit (Photo: Miami Herald)

by Andrés Oppenheimer

President Biden is scheduled to convene about 100 world leaders to his long-announced virtual Summit for Democracy on Dec. 9-10. But I wonder whether he’s doing right in inviting the presidents of Mexico, Argentina and other countries that — while democratic — are accomplices of some of the world’s worst dictators.

Granted, Biden’s summit is an improvement over former President Trump’s approach to democracy and human rights. Trump didn’t care much about either, and happily embraced dictators such as those of North Korea and Russia, giving them huge propaganda victories in exchange for nothing.

But Biden should be more careful with who he invites to his meeting, or with what place he assigns to them at the table.

U.S. officials told me that a preliminary list of invited countries will include Mexico, Argentina, the Philippines and Poland. Mexico and Argentina have democratically elected presidents, but they back the Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan dictatorships.

There are eight Latin American and Caribbean nations that have not been invited to the summit, U.S. officials tell me. The non-invited countries are: Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti.

While the leaders of Mexico and Argentina should not be excluded from the meeting, I wonder whether they should be given the same status as the heads of state from Switzerland, Denmark, Uruguay and other countries that defend democracy.

As recently as last week, the United States, the 27-country European Union and most Latin American democracies denounced Nicaragua’s sham Nov. 7 elections. But Mexico and Argentina shamefully failed to condemn Nicaragua’s electoral farce.

Biden called the Nicaraguan elections a “pantomime.” Even Peru, whose president ran as a candidate for a self-described Marxist party, said in an official foreign ministry statement that Nicaragua’s elections failed to meet “the minimal criteria for free, fair and transparent elections.”

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