Cuba Isn’t the Summit of the Americas’ Only Guest List Problem

Cuba Isn’t the Summit of the Americas’ Only Guest List Problem
A protester peaks out from behind a shield on which a sign in Spanish reads, “We have said, ‘Enough,’” during an anti-government protest in Bogota, Colombia, May 10, 2021 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

The biggest controversy at the Summit of the Americas being held this week in Los Angeles is the guest list. No, this isn’t another column about whether Cuba should be invited. It’s about the entire guest list of presidents and prime ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean claiming to represent their countries. With few exceptions, if you ask the publics that voted those leaders into office, a majority of them think the person representing their country at the Summit of the Americas is doing a poor job.

The host, U.S. President Joe Biden, has an approval rating of around 41 percent. And that’s the best among the leaders in attendance representing the most populous countries in the hemisphere. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has a 25 percent approval rating in the most recent Datafolha poll and is very likely to lose his bid for reelection later this year. Argentine President Alberto Fernandez is at around 24 percent. Colombian President Ivan Duque has an approval rating of around 35 percent and will be succeeded by an anti-establishment candidate, whether of the left or right, later this year. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a 39 percent approval rating, despite winning a new mandate late last year. Peruvian President Castillo is at 20 percent and falling.

And the list goes on. Only a handful of the presidents and prime ministers attending in Los Angeles have positive approval ratings—over half of them are below 40 percent. Chilean President Gabriel Boric represents the hemispheres current mood well. Elected as an opponent to the previous administration with over 50 percent of the second-round vote in December, Boric is now, less than six months later, below 40 percent approval in every major opinion poll.

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