The Government of the United States has chosen the City of Los Angeles in the State of California to host the next Summit of the Americas the week of June 6 this year after the event was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The meeting is to take place on U.S. soil for the second time since the forum was created nearly three decades ago. Former President Trump skipped the last summit, held in Peru in 2018. The Summit, which is set to be held every three years, was called off in 2021 for sanitary reasons.
The White House said in a statement announcing the decision Tuesday that the “vital national interests of the United States are inextricably bound to the fortunes of our closest neighbors in the Americas.”
Los Angeles' large latino population provides with a setting that befits the purposes of the Summit, which is to bring together leaders of the entire continent to discuss affairs of mutual interest. The first summit was held in Miami in 1994, with President Bill Clinton as host. It was billed as an early post-Cold War venue for regional partnerships in trade, aid and security.
The Biden administration has struggled to approach Latin American countries, particularly in light oif the political situations in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Attendance has generally been limited to democratic countries. Peru revoked Venezuela’s invitation in 2018. Cuba rarely attended except in Panama in 2015, when then Presidents Raul Castro and Obama famously shook hands, launching what would be a historic defrosting of US-Cuba relations — until the Trump administration came in.
Biden also needs the Summit to reach out to regional leaders before efforts by Russia and China already end up cutting the continent into two or more different blocs.
The Summit will focus on defending democracy and human rights in the Western Hemisphere as well as addressing irregular migration, climate change and efforts to ensure equitable growth as the region emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, a senior congressional aide briefed by the State Department told The Associated Press.
Back in 1994, Clinton unsuccessfully pushed for a free trade agreement from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. After such a failure, many foreign relations experts have questioned the need for an expensive gathering of more than 30 leaders, each pushing their own bilateral agenda with Washington but seldom cooperating amongst themselves and Trump's attitude in 2018 spoke volumes.
Other cities vying to host the event were reportedly Miami, Houston and New Orleans. In the end, Los Angeles — a Democratic stronghold where Vice President Kamala Harris has deep roots — was considered a safe choice.