The United States government excluded Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua from the guests at the World Summit for Democracy, which will be held virtually in December with the assistance of 110 countries.
Neither were invitations sent to the governments of Bolivia and El Salvador.
Another 27 countries from the Western Hemisphere (including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay) will be represented at the Summit.
According to the State Department, the summit will take place on December 9 and 10 and will function as “a platform for leaders to announce commitments, reforms and individual and collective initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad.”
Since his arrival at the White House in January, President Joe Biden’s foreign policy has focused on the struggle between democracies and “autocracies,” from his perspective embodied by China and Russia.
Along these lines, the “Summit for Democracy” is one of his priorities, as well as one of his campaign promises.
According to a US government source, who spoke to the Argentine newspaper Clarion, “The purpose of the guest list was to ensure that the Summit reflects a diverse list of democracies. We are encompassing a broad spectrum of viewpoints, with a clear recognition that no democracy is perfect. We want to engage, foster positive change, and learn of shared experience “.
“The exclusion of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba is simply an affirmation of what we all know to be true: these countries are undemocratic, authoritarian and repressive towards their own populations. To include them in a summit of democracies would be a mockery of democratic principles”, said to Clarion Cynthia Arnson, director of the Wilson Center’s Latin America Program.
The guest list has sparked diplomatic controversy, especially after the exclusion of China and the invitation to Taiwan, which has sparked the protests in Beijing. The island is considered by China as a separatist province and only has 15 nations around the world that recognize its sovereignty.
“With this summit, Taiwan can share its democratic success story,” Taiwanese Presidency spokesman Xavier Chang said in a statement.
China, on the other hand, showed its “firm opposition to this US invitation to the Taiwanese authorities,” according to statements to the press from the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, who stressed that Taiwan is “an inalienable part of the Chinese territory.”
Russia, another of the excluded countries, also criticized the US initiative.
“The United States prefers to create new lines of division, dividing countries into good, in its opinion, and bad, in its opinion,” declared Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov.
Those invited to the virtual Summit include countries allied to Washington, such as India and Pakistan, although Turkey, an ally of Washington in NATO, also does not appear among the participants.
From the Middle East, where absolute monarchies and other undemocratic regimes abound, only Israel and Iraq were invited to this meeting.
Various analysts have questioned inclusion among invited countries from rather dubious democracies like Duterte’s Philippines or Modi’s India.