Correspondent in Washington
The Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, decided to absent himself from the great virtual summit of democracies summoned by Joe Biden and send his ambassador to Washington, Esteban Moctezuma Barragán. The Mexican president did not even delegate his chancellor, Marcelo Ebrard.
In a plenary session attended by video by a hundred heads of State and Government, Moctezuma defended “the strength of Mexican democracy, such as access to free elections, freedom of the press, the right to dissent and political plurality.” .
It was the Embassy of Mexico in the US that announced that the delegate was Moctezuma in a statement that gave no further reasons for the absence of the head of state and government.
There was already a feeling in Washington that López Obrador might be absent.
But in a previous conversation with journalists, a senior White House official told reporters that he believed that Mexico Chancellor Ebrard could represent him. In the end, not even that foreign minister was.
López Obrador is a close ally of several leaders who were not invited to the summit by Biden: Castroism in Cuba, Chavismo in Venezuela and the Ortega dictatorship in Nicaragua.
Rise of totalitarianism
The will of Biden with this meeting is to create a permanent forum in which countries can enter or leave depending on their commitment to democracy, in a context of the rise of totalitarianism. Biden himself said when opening the plenary that “half of all democracies have experienced a decline in at least one aspect of democracy during the last 10 years, including the US.”
In line with a less interventionist policy in Latin America than that of his predecessor, Biden has not given more prominent places to leaders of the continent in these two summit days, Thursday and Friday.
After the plenary session, the heads of Government of Latvia, Denmark, Zambia, Lithuania, the Dominican Republic, Malawi, Sweden, Botswana, Slovakia, Moldova, Ghana and New Zealand took part in talks and presentations. The UN Secretary General will also speak, António Guterres, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Not one American, and neither did the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, speak. As this newspaper learned, Almagro had been invited to participate.
In addition to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, what the Trump Administration described as “the troika of tyranny,” there are also countries that the US accuses of corruption or authoritarian drift, including Guatemala and El Salvador. Precisely on Wednesday the United States accused the Salvadoran president, Nayib B Watch, of having sealed a pact with the gangs, the criminal groups, to reduce crime and gain their support in elections. Bukele denies it.