As US President Joe Biden greets more than 20 Western Hemisphere leaders in Los Angeles, one of those excluded from the California meeting is holding his own high-level talks on the other side of the globe: Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro hastily flew to Ankara to meet your Turkish counterpart.
The leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were excluded from the meeting due to their authoritarian governments and poor human rights record, prompting the leaders of several other countries to boycott the summit in solidarity. In the most notable defection, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent lower-ranking officials in his place.
Cuba, which was invited to previous summits in 2018 and 2015 and is expected to be invited this year as well, called its expulsion “undemocratic”.
Maduro also criticized the decision but went even further by naming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – a visit that appeared to have been arranged at the last minute. According to Venezuelan law, the head of state must obtain permission from Congress to travel abroad on official visits. The Maduro-controlled National Assembly confirmed the permit on Tuesday evening, an hour after the presidential plane had already landed in Ankara.
Maduro’s visit also allows Erdogan to send a message that his country is independent and can make the foreign policy decisions it wants.
Although there has been no official statement as to whether the two sides met in Ankara, one can bet that the coincidence has not escaped Washington’s attention.