Summit of Americas, RIP? Welcome, Summit of the Peoples?

That V Summit of the Americas of 2009 is where a priceless opportunity was squandered. Whereas obvious inexperience could have been an excuse for his subsequent repudiation of the handshake of friendship by the late President Hugo Chávez on behalf of Venezuela and most countries of the region, the US President again would have had more than ample time since then to replace rhetoric with substance and action.

Shortly after that Summit would follow the overthrow of Manuel Zelaya, the duly elected President of Honduras. This was a coup condemned by most countries of the region with the US a signal exception. Naturally, from the US would then come a former adviser to a former Presidential candidate to lobby for the illegitimate regime.

In 2012 in Cartagena, Colombia the VI Summit also saw no consensus statement as the thorny matters of the destructive and failed ‘war on drugs’ and of Cuba’s continued absence had still not been resolved – by the US. In fact, at that meeting the US would be served notice that no Cuba in 2015 would mean non-attendance of most leaders. Somehow coincidentally, on 22 June 2012 yet another coup, the ‘political’ overthrow of President Lugo of Paraguay would follow. Again, one would think that for Summit VII in 2015 there would be sufficient time for planning and action, time to earn trust and to enable mutually beneficial cooperation – not so with the US.

Instead, there would be astonishingly amateurish attempts to sow dissent in Cuba; in Venezuela, sow mischief with a compliant disenchanted upper class in particular. In Venezuela from February 2014, there would be la Salida that would result in violence and deaths. On 11 February 2015 an alleged coup against President Maduro was thwarted with the Mayor of Caracas arrested, and recovered recordings would seem to corroborate the charge – the US would deny any part in the attempt, attracting further ridicule.

As if the incompetence and amateurishness could not get worse, with the Summit upcoming in April, the US President on 9 March 2015 would declare Venezuela to be a threat to the national security of the US, yet loud silence on the situation in Mexico – Ayotzinapa and what that implies. The tidal wave of ridicule is yet to abate, and the VII Summit formally commences on 10 April. (Not to be mentioned is the US President’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, of all places, to offer condolences, and firm up possible arrangements for his next career move.) So then where are we?

Prospects for such Summits where the US shows undisguised disrespect for other participants are bleak. For the third time there will be no agreed, final declaration – US and Canada, again. We go to fdl where there is the report, US Alone Once Again at Americas Summit. Couple excerpts from the article from Miguel Tinker Salas,

In Latin America, whose leaders are convening at a hemispheric summit in Panama this week, the United States finds itself alone once again. The 2012 Summit of the Americas proved a disaster for Obama due to his administration’s policy toward Cuba and its “war on drugs.”

The stage seems to be set for a repeat. Every regional body that does not include the United States, including the Union of South America (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), has condemned the sanctions. The Group of 77, an association of developing countries in the United Nations, has also denounced the measures. Washington sought to isolate Venezuela in Latin America, and it failed.

(And on the signature initiative of Venezuela rejecting that ill-advised US decree, so far almost 10.5 million signatures collected, where 10 million was the goal.)

We have a more pragmatic take on the future of the Summit of the Americas, with this post, even as we suggest it has been an anachronism in a world where reality has bypassed the US. From TeleSUR comes,Obama ante otro fracaso: ¿Adiós a las Cumbres de las Américas? The telling paragraph,

Hasta hace pocas semanas, la Cumbre de Panamá se perfilaba como el escenario ideal para que Obama fuera aplaudido por sus pares por haber iniciado la ansiada distensión con Cuba. Sin embargo, el gobierno de Estados Unidos reafirmó su accionar imperial y se enfrenta nuevamente a un clima regional hostil.

The US proclivity for showing ‘exceptionalism’, condescension, and not collegiality and cooperation, has been a failing strategy, and the heavily promoted ‘progressive’ US President has consistently fallen short. Then again, that would further confirm an observation the intellectual Cornel West had made in an interview with Salon, Cornel West: “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency”. West’s observation,

No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline…

There, simply put, is the valedictory to US President at this Summit of the Americas VII, as the region has become no longer willing, no longer accepting of an Organization of American States (OAS) dominated by an intransigent and increasingly chaotic US and its ever compliant Canada. Now therefore comes a splendid opportunity for a more people-oriented meeting, the very Summit of the Peoples, which can be integrated into an independent organisation such as CELAC?


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