Above Photo: Unidentified US activist being beaten by policeman in Los Angeles. Apu Gomes / AFP/Getty.
The opening day of the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, was stained by brutal police repression of demonstrations.
The meeting has already been marred by controversy surrounding the White House’s refusal to invite Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, giving rise to boycotts and complaints from many other nations of the Americas. Perhaps most notable was the refusal of Mexico’s President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to attend.
News outlets and social media platforms shared numerous videos of the scene in which a towering Los Angeles police officer violently attacked a woman who was speaking into a bullhorn, tackling her onto the pavement and delivering blows to her face. At that time, US President Biden’s presidential motorcade was passing through the area of the event now being referred to disparagingly as the “Friends of America Gathering” or the “Summit of Exclusion.”
During the beginning of Biden’s speech at the inaugural ceremony of the summit, shouts of protest and loud booing could be heard for several minutes from protesters opposed to the hegemonic foreign policy of the US. President Biden stopped his speech for several seconds, and then spoke over the tumult, which continued unabated.
The White House press office claimed that there were two people who tried to interrupt Biden’s speech, but did not specify what they were saying. “President Biden began speaking at 6 p.m. and was booed almost immediately by two of the attendees,” read a brief report.
The White House did not back down from its decision to exclude Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua from the summit due to alleged human rights and democracy concerns, despite objections voiced by representatives from most of the countries of the Americas. According to an analysis presented by Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel on June 8, the US promotion of these values constitutes a great hypocrisy.
“The promotion of democracy and human rights are just chimeras in a political system in which the interests of producers and marketers of weapons of war take precedence over the lives of children, the right to health and education,” President Díaz-Canel said. The violent takedown of a seemingly peaceful demonstrator only served to corroborate Díaz-Canel’s assertion.
The Summit does not represent the Americas
As the summit wraps up in Los Angeles, it appears that it will prove to be, as ALBA-TCP Executive Secretary Sacha Lorenti said, “neither a summit, nor … one of the Americas,” without the presence of many heads of state from the Americas.
Alongside the self-styled Summit of the Americas, more than 200 social, political, and community organizations celebrated the People’s Summit. In addition, in Tijuana, Mexico—less than 250 miles from Los Angeles—the Workers Summit of the Americas is starting on Friday.
For this reason, California also became the meeting point for progressive forces that condemn the exclusion imposed by Washington upon the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. The participants have given workshops and held conferences and debates, opening spaces for political reflection through art and culture.