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US Hosts ‘Summit of the Americas’ – Lesson


Joe Biden at Summit of the Americas (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Amid disagreements and drama, President Biden announces plans for the region.

The United States is often just called “America,” but the Americas actually include 35 countries. The area consists of two continents: North and South America. In addition, many islands of the Caribbean are considered part of the Americas. This week, the US has been hosting a meeting between countries belonging to this landmass, the Summit of the Americas.

Summit of the Americas

The first Summit of the Americas (SOA) was held in 1994. It was hosted in the US by President Bill Clinton. Since then, the meeting has been held every few years. This is the second year the US has hosted – some other host countries have included Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Chile.

The purpose of the event is to bring together leaders of the Organization of American States – a group that aims to boost cooperation between the continents’ nations. The only American country that does not belong is Cuba, which was expelled after its communist revolution in 1959. Despite this, Cuba has still been invited to attend some of the SOA meetings in recent years.

This year’s meeting has seen some controversy because President Biden didn’t invite three countries that are not democracies – Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. These three nations are run by dictators, who are not thought to be elected in a fair vote by the people.

Some people disapproved of the decision to exclude them. The move annoyed Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who decided to protest by not attending the event. He wasn’t the only leader to avoid the event, with only 21 leaders deciding to attend. “There can’t be a Summit of the Americas if not all the Countries of the American continent are taking part,” said Obrador.

On the other hand, many have said that undemocratic countries shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the summit, and that letting them in would only give a voice to dictators. US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, “one of the key elements of this summit is democratic governance, and these countries are not exemplars, to put it mildly.”

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Despite this disagreement, the SOA went ahead with leaders from the region meeting in Los Angeles.

What Happened at the Summit?

President Joe Biden announced the “Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity.” This new agreement aims to bring the region closer together economically. According to Biden, it aims to help recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by boosting trade and jobs, as well as “making more resilient supply chains.” According to some, this partnership is a way to get more US influence in the region, since China has started many projects there in recent years.


Kamala Harris stands for a photo with leaders from Caribbean nations at the Summit of the Americas (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Biden also announced an “Action Plan on Health and Resilience in the Americas.”  After COVID-19, this plan proposes to help the continent deal with epidemics and health issues in the future. According to the White House, it will “help the region better respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future pandemics by building the capability to prevent outbreaks, detect infectious disease threats, and respond effectively when outbreaks occur.”

Vice President Kamala Harris launched a “Call to Action” encouraging companies and groups to invest in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. These countries are where a lot of illegal immigration to the US originates, and Harris hopes to reduce this problem by helping to boost the region’s economy. According to the vice president, she has gotten businesses to invest more than $3.2 billion in these countries. For instance, clothing company Gap Inc. has pledged to get more of its materials from Central America and plans to spend $150 million by 2025.

Will these plans get much support? Will the countries across the continents agree to work together, or are they too different?