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Biden addresses Summit of the Americas

Biden addresses Summit of the Americas
United States President Joe Biden and his wife Dr Jill Biden at Wednesday’s session of the Summit of the Americas. (Picture courtesy PMO)

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LOS ANGELES – United States President Joe Biden has warned that democracy is under assault around the world and called on leaders of the Americas to unite and renew their conviction that democracy is not only the defining feature of American histories, but the essential ingredient to Americas’ futures.

“To state the obvious, our region is large and diverse. We don’t always agree on everything, but, because we’re democracies, we work through our disagreements with mutual respect and dialogue,” Biden told the opening of the Ninth Summit of the Americas on Wednesday night.

“At this summit, we have an opportunity for us to come together around some bold ideas, ambitious actions, and to demonstrate to our people the incredible power of democracies to deliver concrete benefits and make life better for everyone.

“And no longer is this a question of what will we do, what will the United States do for the Americas. The question is what we accomplish by working together as true partners with diverse capabilities but equal and mutual respect, recognising both our individual sovereignty and our shared responsibilities.”

At least eight Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders are participating in the event that ends on Friday. CARICOM countries had been divided on whether or not to attend the Summit in support of calls for the host nation to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to the deliberations.

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr  Ralph Gonsalves is the only CARICOM leader who has publicly announced that he nor any other government minister will be attending the summit that is also not being attended by several other countries notably among them, Mexico.

President Biden told the opening ceremony that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had hit the region hard.

“While we account for just 12 percent of the global population, we experienced more than 40 percent of reported global pandemic-related deaths.  It’s an enormous tragedy that has left too many families grief-stricken.

“And the ensuing economic crisis, triggered by the pandemic, ravaged economies throughout the hemisphere, wiping out much of the hard-earned progress we had made,” Biden added.

Biden told the ceremony that 22 million more people fell into poverty in just the first year of the pandemic, noting that inequity continues to rise.

He said global inflammatory pressures were made worse by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine” and making it harder for families to make ends meet.

The US president said all of these factors are contributing to “vastly increased” migration flows throughout hemisphere, “with too many people feeling there is no option available to them to provide for themselves and their families.

“These challenges affect all of us.  All of our nations have a responsibility to step up and ease the pressure people are feeling today.”

In the months leading up to this summit, Biden said countries have made “meaningful and concrete commitments” to address these challenges, stating that the United States is attempting to do its part as well.”

He noted that, on Tuesday, the US launched the Cities Forward initiative, recognizing the key roles of mayors and local governments in delivering for the people where they live.  The US will host the inaugural Cities Summit of the Americas in Denver, Colorado, in 2023. (CMC)