Because the high-profile Summit of the Americas acquired underway Monday in Los Angeles, with presidents and prime ministers from all through the Western Hemisphere anticipated to attend, confusion continued to encompass the agenda, what President Biden hopes to realize and whether or not U.S.-Latin American relations will likely be higher or worse in consequence.Even veteran Latin American specialists who’ve attended a number of of the regional conferences over the previous three a long time had been exasperated, noting that the Biden administration solely belatedly turned to the summit and potential agenda, together with its alternative for progress and brighter relations within the hemisphere.Some urged the summit was so behind the ball in planning that it will have been higher to cancel than to conduct the convention in a half-baked method.“The issues with the summit may also be attributed to the sorry state of U.S. politics and the area,” mentioned Michael Shifter, previous president of the Inter-American Dialogue suppose tank in Washington. Like different specialists, Shifter believes Biden has not acted on his said intention to deepen ties with Latin America.“A extremely fragmented and deeply troubled Latin America has not made [Biden’s] activity simpler,” Shifter mentioned.The summit’s opening day was overshadowed by some main no-shows.After weeks of coy, maybe-maybe-not flirtation with attending the convention, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, arguably a very powerful Latin American chief on the visitor record, lastly introduced Monday morning that he was staying dwelling. López Obrador was protesting the Biden administration‘s choice to exclude Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, and others adopted swimsuit: Honduras, the administration’s closest ally in Central America, despatched a lower-level delegation, Uruguay’s president mentioned he had contracted COVID-19, and Bolivia additionally declined to attend.After a gentle stream of lobbying from Biden envoys, together with former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), López Obrador mentioned he would ship his international minister, Marcelo Ebrard.“There can’t be a Summit of the Americas if all international locations of the Americas can’t attend,” López Obrador mentioned at his each day press convention in Mexico Metropolis. “That is to proceed the previous interventionist insurance policies, of lack of respect for nations and their individuals.”Deflecting a serious blow to its skill to convene the area’s leaders, Biden administration officers sought to downplay the absence of López Obrador. White Home Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insisted that “dictators” shouldn’t be invited to the summit, defending the exclusion of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, whereas saying that the Mexican delegation, even with out its president, would make “vital contributions” to the summit and its targets.“We had a disagreement with this specific drawback,” mentioned a senior administration official, referring to the Mexican president’s absence whereas briefing reporters Monday after a big delay earlier than the summit’s begin.“We really feel very assured with the method we’re taking [to the summit],” the official added.Regardless of López Obrador’s snub, Jean-Pierre mentioned Biden would host his Mexican counterpart on the White Home in July for a bilateral go to, giving them an “alternative to hold the work ahead for the summit.” Brett Bruen, who served within the Obama White Home as director of world engagement and is a frequent Biden critic, referred to as the summit “an unmitigated catastrophe for American diplomacy in our personal hemisphere.”“The truth that we couldn’t work out probably the most basic items like who’s coming, what are the most important deliverables to be introduced, is a nationwide embarrassment,” he mentioned, noting that the U.S. will get to host the occasion solely each couple of a long time.Bruen mentioned the scramble over planning reinforces a long-held impression that the area is just not a precedence, with China and Russia being attentive to how we handle neighborly relations.Nonetheless, the White Home continued to fend off questions on how the U.S. deliberate to make progress on immigration discussions given Mexico’s absence from the summit together with two of the three “northern triangle” Central America international locations. The senior administration official, who briefed reporters on situation of anonymity, mentioned Mexico has been a “full participant” within the migration declaration, which is predicted to be introduced on the summit later this week.“We anticipate most, if not all the international locations which might be considerably impacted by the migration disaster to be engaged on that matter with the summit, whether or not they’re represented by a head of state or not,” the official mentioned.The primary Summit of the Americas was held in Miami in 1994, and this 12 months’s occasion in Los Angeles marks its first return to the USA.After weeks of requests, U.S. officers on Monday launched a roster of the attendees of the convention. There will likely be 68 delegations on the occasion however solely 23 heads of state, or about two-thirds of the area’s leaders, administration officers mentioned.A number of summit occasions began Monday, together with exhibitions with dissident Cuban artists and interviews with mayors from the area. Biden gained’t open the formal session with the opposite world leaders till Thursday.Biden and First Woman Jill Biden will host a gala dinner for the visiting heads of state Thursday night time on the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, and conferences proceed the next day. Points to be addressed embrace immigration, commerce and local weather. Although López Obrador’s absence underscored the query of whether or not any significant progress could possibly be made on regional points, some specialists cautioned it shouldn’t obscure the summit’s potential.“The U.S. shouldn’t see the summit as U.S.-centric when it comes to the agenda, however neither ought to Latin American nations come anticipating that the U.S. will or ought to set the tone of it,” mentioned Diego Abente Brun, director of Latin American and Hemispheric Research on the George Washington College.He mentioned Biden nonetheless has time to reset U.S.-Latin American relations and Latin American international locations nonetheless have a possibility to have their voices heard.“Agreements and disagreements ought to be dropped at the desk, and hopefully a typical agenda and, above all, dedication emerge from it.”Instances employees author Eli Stokols contributed from Washington.