Only weeks after a presidential resignation and without the presence of the region’s top two headline-grabbers, Peru will host the Summit of the Americas starting tomorrow.
The meeting, held under the auspices of the Organization of the American States (OAS), will see heads of state descend on Lima for two days for debates around the theme of “Democratic Governance against Corruption.” Hanging over the summit is the recent resignation of former Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in connection with corruption accusations as well as the sprawling Odebrecht scandal that has gripped Brazilian and to a lesser extent, Latin American politics as a whole.
Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra will host the meeting of heads of state from across the Americas.
Both US President Donald Trump and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro will not attend the summit: Trump has indicated that he wants to focus on Syria, whereas Maduro indicated last week that the summit was no longer a high priority for Caracas. While he was still president, Kuczynski had withdrawn his invitation for Maduro to attend, citing a Lima Group request which pointed to a break of the normal democratic process in Venezuela. Maduro had initially defied Peru’s decision, promising to attend by any means necessary.
Although the crisis in Venezuela is not officially on the agenda for the summit, it will certainly be part of informal discussions. This week President Mauricio Macri has made it clear that he will seek to shore up support for his decision to not recognize the upcoming presidential elections in Venezuela. “In Lima, Venezuela is going to be at the top of the agenda” said Macri this week. “It doesn’t matter how much Mr. Maduro insults me, we are not going to recognize him as a democratic president because Venezuela hasn’t been a democracy for a long time.”
As a body, the OAS is divided on the matter of Venezuela, evidenced in the lack of action by the OAS Permanent Council. The Lima Group, while made of up OAS members, is a subset of the countries in the region.
US Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Lima in Trump’s place and he and Macri will be meeting on the sidelines of the summit, with Venezuela and the ongoing biodiesel and steel disputes most certainly among the talking points. Macri is also set to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, and US Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) during the summit.
The Summit of the Americas takes place once every three years.