The largest meeting of the leaders of the countries of the region “Summit of the Americas” (in Spanish – Cumbre de las Américas) was opened in the evening of the 13th of April in the Peruvian capital Lima. The main plenary session of the eighth American forum, which usually meets once every three years, was held on Saturday on the 14th of April. This year, the main issues of the meeting were related to corruption, and the theme of the summit was identified under the auspices of two slogans: “Democratic government against corruption” and “Corruption and sustainable development”. What was the outcome of the “Summit of the Americas” this time? How will its results affect the development of the region in the coming years?
The theme of the last summit was extremely relevant against the backdrop of recent corruption scandals in the region, related in particular to the activity of the world-famous Brazilian construction company “Odebrecht”, which led to a series of high-profile criminal cases in which several leaders of Latin American countries were spotted. The heads and the representatives of more than 30 American states during the two-day session held discussions on a wide range of issues related to the regional economy, society, democracy, public administration and, of course, the fight against corruption.
This time at the summit, several presidents did not come. The current US President Donald Trump refused to visit Peru in a few weeks (instead of him, the US leadership was represented by the Vice President Mike Pence), the head of the State Council of Cuba Raúl Castro (he was replaced by the head of the Foreign Ministry of the Island of Freedom), the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala and Paraguay who also sent their representatives. It is worth noting that the leader of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and this time was deprived of the right to participate in the decision of the Government of Peru. On the eve of the meeting on the 12th of April, in his turn, Maduro stated that he would not participate in the “Summit of the Americas”, citing the fact that it was “a waste of time” for him.
It should be emphasized that right after the VIII Summit of the Americas, Bolivian President Evo Morales hurried to Caracas to express his support for the brotherly Venezuelan leadership, which was not invited to the meeting of leaders of the countries of the Western Hemisphere in Peru. The Bolivian leader conveyed to his colleague Nicolás Maduro a message from the participants of the People’s Summit, an informal forum of indigenous people, trade unions and civil organizations from all over the Americas that was held in parallel. They addressed words of solidarity with President Maduro, declared persona non grata by the governments of the Organization of American States. The presidents also discussed the future summits of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), which will be held this year in Bolivia.
On the 12th of April the Ecuadorian leader Lenín Moreno was also forced to suspend his visit to Peru and return urgently to Ecuador because of the situation with the journalists abducted earlier. Immediately after his return, on the 13th of April, Moreno confirmed that two employees of the newspaper “Comercio” and their driver were killed in the Mataje region on the Ecuadorian border with Colombia. Later, the Oliver Sinisterra Front of the “Revolutionary Armed Forces” of Colombia (FARC), which are currently operating in Ecuador, distributed a communiqué in which he noted that the abducted journalists were killed in the operation carried out by the Colombian army in the region. Lenín Moreno said in his official statement that he decided to return immediately to Ecuador because of the critical situation that the Ecuadorian people are enduring these days.
During the meetings and discussions, the leaders of the American countries have repeatedly promised to strengthen state democratic governance, strive for greater transparency and truthfulness in obtaining and disseminating information, protecting the rights of witnesses and people. The main joint decision of the meeting was the prevention of corruption in regional social and economic projects, contracts and purchases, strengthening of international legal cooperation and responsibility, combating bribery and organized crime at all levels of governments, strengthening the formation of an anti-corruption mechanism in America, and implementing all the documents that were been adopted during the summit. During the closing session, the representatives of all countries adopted the final document “Lima commitment”, which emphasized that preventing corruption is a key component for strengthening democracy, public confidence and state development in various fields.
This year, the “Summit of the Americas” was not without scandal. In the framework of his speech on the 14th of April, the representative of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Bruno Rodríguez, delivered very “harsh” words to the current US leadership. Rodríguez accused the US of crimes in the region, which are committed here, he said, more than a hundred years. The Cuban diplomat noted that all, without exception, despotic Latin American regimes were imposed by Washington. According to him, “on the conscience of the United States” – the bloody operation “Condor”, and a coup in Chile. According to Rodríguez, the US more than any states violates the rights of people, has a differentiated racial structure and is not responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent citizens. In the course of his speech, the representative of the Cuban leadership recalled that the protectionism that the US has promoted in recent years could destroy the employment system in the Latin American region, agriculture and industry. The experienced diplomat said that if Washington were really interested in Cuban rights, it would be engaged in cooperation with Cuba, rather than sabotage bilateral diplomacy. At the end of his speech, he noted that the events that took place during the last presidential term of Barack Obama, yet demonstrated the possibility of peaceful and civilized coexistence between the US and the Island of Freedom.
In recent years, the format and results of the “Summit of the Americas” have been criticized by many political and economic observers and analysts. According to the international expert, professor of the Central University of Venezuela Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein, a summit meeting in which the presence of national leaders or the signing of joint resolutions are not binding, is not of particular importance. Many political scientists note that the idea of the “Summit of the Americas” was originally aimed at creating some sort of joint image of the region. Experts also emphasize that in today’s globalized world, where thanks to technology, presidents and representatives of all countries can maintain a constant exchange of information, and such events are only rhetorical and symbolic.
However, the main result of the “Summit of the Americas” this year was the adoption of the joint regional outcome document “Lima commitment”. Through this document, participants rely on the common efforts of all countries in the Americas to implement specific anti-corruption measures in order to ensure a stable socio-economic development of the region. Nevertheless, whether the American states will be able to defeat corruption scandals and step up to joint measures will be shown not only by the upcoming electoral “super marathon” in Latin America, but also by two regional summits of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).