The 28th Ibero-American Summit began in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Friday amid a series of controversies and tensions among some participating governments and with the absence of the presidents of the largest countries in the region: Mexico and Brazil.
“Together for a fair and sustainable Ibero-America,” is the motto of this year’s summit in which representatives of the 22 member countries will sign an Ibero-American Environmental Charter, an Ibero-American Charter of Principles and Digital Rights, an agreement on food security, and a commitment to build a fairer, more inclusive and flexible international financial architecture, in the midst of the incipient post-pandemic economic recovery.
The meeting of foreign ministers took place on Friday, March 24, and the next day will be the presidential meeting, which is expected to be attended by 16 heads of state, including presidents of Argentina, Alberto Fernández; Bolivia, Luis Arce; Cuba, Miguel Díaz Canel; Chile, Gabriel Boric; Honduras, Xiomara Castro; Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso; Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez; Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou; and the prime minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, who will attend the meeting together with King Felipe VI, the titular head of the Spanish state.
El próximo 24 y 25 de marzo en Santo Domingo, República Dominicana será anfitrión de la XXVIII Cumbre Iberoamericana de Jefas y Jefes de Estado y de Gobierno en la que participarán los 22 países de Iberoamérica. pic.twitter.com/bcnKxBndKr
— Cumbre Iberoamericana (@CumbreIberoA) March 16, 2023
However, beyond the official agenda, the summit is marked by a series of diplomatic crises that have cast a pall of tension over the meeting.
For example, ealier in the week, the president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, publicly complained to his Argentinian counterpart, Alberto Fernández for having received the former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa in Buenos Aires, who was attending the Puebla Group Summit and the World Forum on Human Rights, held in Argentina.
The Ecuador-Argentina conflict broke out last week, after María de los Ángeles Duarte Pesantes, former minister of the Correa government and politically persecuted in Ecuador in the same case as Correa, left the Argentinian embassy in Quito, where she had been staying since 2020 as a “guest for humanitarian reasons.”
The following day, it was confirmed that Duarte had arrived in Caracas, Venezuela. The incident unleashed a series of clashes between the governments of Lasso and Fernández, including the expulsion of the Argentinian ambassador from Ecuador, in response to which the Fernández government expelled the Ecuadorian ambassador.
Presidente @LassoGuillermo, reciba estas palabras con el sincero afecto de siempre. Haga el esfuerzo de no mezclar este incidente producto de la impericia de oficiales del Estado ecuatoriano con el amor que a nuestros pueblos vincula. https://t.co/OQmzguX2KZ pic.twitter.com/GMMWZ95IOP
— Alberto Fernández (@alferdez) March 21, 2023
Now, the two presidents will meet each other at the Ibero-American Summit. However, this is not the only meeting surrounded by uncertainty and conflict.
Venezuela Demands Respect for Human Rights of Migrants Deported from Chile
The president of Argentina has another front of conflict with his Chilean counterpart, Gabriel Boric, whom he will also meet in Santo Domingo.
The controversy arises from the fact that Fernández has criticized the Chilean judiciary on several occasions for a corruption case involving former Chilean presidential candidate Marco Enríquez-Ominami, founder of the Puebla Group.
In response, the Chilean minister of Justice, Luis Cordero, said that Fernández’s criticisms as “impertinent and improper,” and called on him to respect the institutions of other countries.
Boric, similarly, arrives at the Santo Domingo summit in the midst of renewed crisis with Bolivia, a country with which Chile has not had diplomatic relations since 1978.
Llegamos a República Dominicana para participar de la #CumbreRD2023 y seguir fortaleciendo lazos con países iberoamericanos para trabajar en conjunto en los desafíos comunes en torno a medio ambiente, migración y modernización tecnológica. pic.twitter.com/96kC5QPuM6
— Gabriel Boric Font (@GabrielBoric) March 24, 2023
The long-standing bilateral conflict intensified in recent weeks, after Boric militarized the northern border of Chile in order to curb “irregular migration.”
In fact, the Chilean president openly criticized the governments of Bolivia and Venezuela for allegedly hindering the expulsion of migrants, which was immediately refuted by La Paz and Caracas.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil stated that the Venezuelan government “has not yet received a request for coordinated work with the Chilean government regarding deportations of Venezuelans.”
“We have been asking for coordination in this matter, as well as the demanding respect for the human rights of our compatriots,” Gil stressed.
On Thursday, March 23, Bolivian President Luis Arce proposed an agenda to reestablish relations with Chile to “heal wounds, build brotherhood, integration and hope.”
Nota | Bolivia lleva cinco propuestas a la XXVIII Cumbre Iberoamericana de Jefes de Estado
Léelo aquí 🔗 https://t.co/KINtYAN6zV pic.twitter.com/fZszFQ9nXF
— Cancillería de Bolivia (@MRE_Bolivia) March 24, 2023
In addition to the controversy with Bolivia, Boric’s constant criticisms against the governments of Cuba and Venezuela have created tension with those countries, whose representatives will be present at the Ibero-American Summit, although the only one at presidential level will be Miguel Díaz-Canel of Cuba. President Maduro of Venezuela will not attend; the government of Venezuela will be represented by Foreign Minister Yvan Gil.
Migration, one of the central themes of the meeting in Santo Domingo, is also a source of tension between Mexico and the countries of Central America, since the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has reinforced operations to stop the Central American migrant caravans from reaching the United States.
Other fronts of tension
In terms of blocs, the postponement of the free trade agreement between the European Union and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR, comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, with Venezuela suspended since 2019) will be one of the issues that marks the Ibero-American Summit, as the agreement was expected to be finally ratified this year.
Meanwhile, the return of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the presidency of Brazil has reactivated Latin American regional integration policies. This week, for example, Argentina announced its reincorporation into the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a body that Lula also wants to rescue.
In addition, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which will hold a summit with the European Union in Brussels in July, has been reactivated.
The rapprochement between the EU and Latin America is due, in part, to the European interest in curbing China’s influence in the region. However, the influence is evidenced by Lula’s absence from the Ibero-American Summit, which he is not attending precisely because he will be on tour in China.
López Obrador is not attending the summit either, which means that the presidents of the two largest economies in Latin America will be absent from an event that seeks to relaunch the link among Ibero-American countries.
The absence of the Mexican president is not a surprise, since during his almost four and a half years in office he has made only five trips abroad, and has usually left international diplomacy in the hands of his Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard. However, this time, even Ebrard is not going to the Ibero-American Summit, so Mexico will only be represented by the undersecretary for external affairs, Maximiliano Reyes.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
scorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/sahelicot92/May 27, 2023
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