Exclusion of Central American Nations at Biden’s Democracy Summit Sets Off Alarm Bells

By Nora Gámez Torres and Jacqueline Charles

"These are precisely the countries that have the deepest problems," said AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth to the Miami Herald.

President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy started Thursday without the presence of eight Latin American and Caribbean nations, an absence that highlights both the backsliding of democratic values in the region as well as his administration’s challenges in a crucial area where setbacks can have an immediate impact on U.S. national security and domestic politics.

Whether because of the autocratic nature of their governments, alleged connections to drug trafficking, dubious democratic credentials, or attacks to democratic institutions, the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti have not been invited…

By not inviting Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to the summit, “the administration is sending a signal that the whole Northern Triangle strategy isn’t working,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of Americas Society/Council of the Americas.

Farnsworth, who hosted Guatemala’s president Alejandro Eduardo Giammattei in Washington on Tuesday, said by putting the leaders of Guatemala, El Salvador and the incoming president of Honduras in the same basket as Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, it says that the administration doesn’t “have a very nuanced policy.”

“These are precisely the countries that have the deepest problems and that the United States really needs to work with on issues close to our agenda like immigration,” he said. “There seems to be a mismatch there.”…

And not inviting Guatemala’s president “begs the question, ‘Is Guatemala less democratic than Mexico? Are they less democratic than Pakistan, which got an invitation?” Farnsworth asked…

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