The only criteria to be invited to Biden’s so-called Summit for Democracy on March 29 and 30 was to be a lapdog of US imperialism, not a real democracy. Instead of uplifting true people’s democracies which have dynamic, mass participation — such as those in Cuba and China — Biden’s summit promoted the overthrow of these governments. As Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said, “The US Democracy Summit was selective and virtual, as virtual as its own ‘democracy,’ a reflection of its own international moral isolation.”
Summit for Democracy
The US government organized a conference of its allies which it misleadingly called a “Summit for Democracy”, but which actually featured numerous anti-democratic, far-right regimes. The State Department invited 120 global leaders to participate in the summit on March 29 and 30. They did so virtually, via video calls. Several of the heads of state who spoke represent governments that even Western officials, corporate media outlets, and mainstream human rights organizations have admitted are authoritarian, including Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Andrzej Duda of Poland, and Narendra Modi of India.
AMLO strongly implied that the United States is an oligarchy, not a real democracy. He argued that the government needs to challenge the power of the economic elites if it truly wants to be democratic. López Obrador opened his speech warning, “Many of the great crimes against humanity have been committed in the name of God or in the name of democracy”. “In some countries, the oligarchy reigns with the façade of democracy”, he said, not so subtly referencing his northern neighbor. “How can we talk about democracy if there is no separation of economic power and political power?” AMLO asked. He added that the system that exists in many countries today is “a mixture of oligarchy and democracy, or a simulated and mediated democracy”.
At the US State Department’s Summit for Democracy (9–10 December), US President Joe Biden announced a range of initiatives to ‘bolster democracy and defend human rights globally’. These measures are to be funded by $424.4 million from the United States. This money will go towards the same institutions that have – for the past sixty years – intervened to undermine the sovereignty of democratic processes from Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954) to Honduras (2009) and Bolivia (2019). The US focuses on falsely portraying governments that are unwilling to accept US leadership as corrupt – as was with the case Brazil’s ‘soft coup’ against former Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva – all while shielding its allies who have documented evidence of corruption – such as the outgoing Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, whose political bloc was defeated by the left in the recently conducted presidential election.
The so-called “Summit for Democracy” should first agree on a definition of what democracy means. Whereas etymologically we know that the definition of democracy means rule by the people, instinctively we feel that people power must be more than a slogan, that it must be concretized by genuine public participation in the conduct of public affairs. There are, of course, many manifestations or “models” of democracy, exercised nationally as well as locally in provinces and communities. The spectrum of democratic governance goes from direct democracy by way of citizen power of initiative and the possibility to challenge legislation by way of referenda, to participatory democracy through public meetings and voting on specific issues by ballot (or even show of hands!), to representative democracy through the election of parliamentarians with specific mandates, to presidential democracy by electing a president with wide-ranging powers.