US accuses Cuba of using upcoming summit as propaganda | Political news

The White House said it had not yet sent out invitations for the June 6-10 summit and declined to provide details.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has accused Cuba of stirring up controversy over its possible exclusion from the US-hosted Summit of the Americas next month to cast Washington as the “bad guy” and distract from Havana’s record. on human rights in his country.

Speaking at a Latin America conference on Thursday, Kerri Hannan, assistant assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said countries that threatened to skip the regional meeting if Cuba, the Venezuela and Nicaragua were not invited should attend, otherwise they would lose an opportunity. to engage with the United States.

A potential boycott of the June 6-10 summit by a growing number of leaders, including Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has raised the risk of embarrassment for Biden, who will host the rally in Los Angeles.

Earlier this week, a US delegation visited Mexico to discuss the issue.

The development comes as the White House said it had not yet sent out invitations and declined to provide details. However, a senior State Department official said in April that Cuba, Nicaragua and the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro would likely be excluded because they failed to show respect for democracy.

Adding to weeks of Cuban criticism, President Miguel Diaz-Canel told lawmakers on Monday that a “country unable to welcome everyone should be disqualified as a host.”

Cuba’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters news agency on Thursday.

“Cubans love it, get the attention they get for not being there and…keep hitting that drum,” Hannan said.

“The more they can shine a light on us and call us bad guys, the more they avoid the fact that the repression they have been actively perpetrating against their people,” she said, citing a crackdown on street protests last July. . “They want the press to ask us whether or not to invite them to the summit…Hypocrisy plays well in the media.”

Last July, thousands of Cubans took to the streets in rare anti-government protests to express their frustration with the state of the economy and the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Authorities responded by cracking down on protesters, and in January the government acknowledged that more than 700 protesters faced criminal charges.

The development also came as the Biden administration this week announced a partial rollback of Trump-era restrictions on remittances and travel to the communist-ruled island. Cuba’s deputy foreign minister on Wednesday denounced US policy towards the island as a continuous “hostility” and “economic blockade”.

Lopez Obrador said last week that he would not go to the summit if Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were not invited. His Bolivian counterpart, Luis Arce, followed suit.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is also likely to skip the meeting, sources told Reuters, without specifying his reason. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said on Tuesday he would not participate, a day after the United States criticized the reappointment of an attorney general he linked to corruption.

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