President Biden arrives in LA for Summit of the Americas
LOS ANGELES - President Joe Biden arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday as the Summit of the Americas begins its formal program of discussions among leaders from Western Hemisphere nations addressing issues ranging from immigration to climate change to COVID.
Air Force One landed at LAX just after 1:30 p.m. The president was greeted by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Gov. Gavin Newsom and his kids. Biden's granddaughter Naomi and her fiancé accompanied the president in LA.
Once they landed in LA, the president boarded Marine One on his way to Hollywood to tape an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live".
The Summit of the Americas will continue through Friday at the Los Angeles Convention Center, with Biden serving as host of the event aimed at generating hemispheric consensus on critical issues facing the nations.
Events will formally begin in the morning with a Ministerial Meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group, chaired by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Biden and first lady Jill Biden are set to host the summit's inaugural ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
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A senior administration official told reporters this week the summit "is an opportunity for us to come together as a hemisphere to tackle some of the top concerns of the people in the region, including obtaining and sustaining economic prosperity, climate change, the migration crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic."
Five formal documents will be released during the summit, "reflecting an ambitious hemispheric consensus on everything from support for civil society to promoting digital connectivity," the official said.
Biden is expected to formally announce the "Americas Partnership" during the summit, a five-pronged effort to bolster regional economies by building on free-trade agreements and addressing "inequality and lack of economic opportunity and equity," according to the administration official.
Also during the summit, Biden will announce more than $300 million in regional assistance to combat food insecurity, along with health initiatives aimed at preparing for future pandemics and a partnership with the Caribbean community to address climate issues. On Friday, the final day of the summit, Biden and other leaders are expected to sign the "Los Angeles Declaration on Migration," which the administration official described as a pact to pursue a "comprehensive" approach to addressing the crisis.
"The president is going to use the Summit of the Americas to align regional leaders, the private sector, and civil society behind this new and ambitious agenda, starting with the economic agenda for the region," the official said.
The official noted that Mexico is among the nations expected to sign the declaration, despite the news this week that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will not be attending the gathering. He pulled out of the event in response to the Biden administration's decision declining to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to the conference. Mexico, however, will still be represented at the event.
The exclusion of the three nations has led to questions about the legitimacy of the event overall, and increased the presence of critics. Opponents of the gathering's tenor are planning a meeting of their own, dubbed the People's Summit for Democracy, which will be at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.
Among those set to speak at the event are Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, political activist/philosopher Cornel West, Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar López Rivera, Honduran Indigenous leader Bertha Zúniga and Indian historian Vijay Prashad.
Organizers of the event contend the Summit of the Americas "has long been an arena to push U.S. economic and political interests in Latin America and the Caribbean, without regard for the people of our shared continent."
"When a powerful country imposes what it claims is `democracy' on other countries, it demeans the idea of democracy and crushes the possibility of any real democracy from taking root," according to the group's website. "Such a `democracy' -- imposed by war or regime change -- is destructive to the potential of the people and to a planet facing the threat of ecological devastation. No one country must be allowed to dominate others and no countries must be permitted to benefit economically and socially at the cost of the benefit of all peoples."
The Los Angeles gathering for the Summit of the Americas is the first time a U.S. city has hosted the event since 1994, when the inaugural conference was in Miami. Representatives from the Western Hemisphere began arriving Monday. The summit convenes once every three or four years.
The summit, organized by the White House and the U.S. Department of State, will continue through Friday with a focus on "Building a Sustainable, Resilient and Equitable Future" in the Americas.
According to the U.S. State Department, the meeting promotes regional cooperation and helps address the region's most pressing issues, including increasing economic competitiveness, enhancing access to technology, countering trafficking and promoting democracy and human rights throughout the Americas.
During the most recent summit -- which was in Peru in 2018 -- the region's leaders committed to fighting corruption, according to the U.S. State Department.
In conjunction with the summit, three forums were also planned in downtown Los Angeles, including the Young Americas Forum hosted by the Young Americas Business Trust. The gathering is designed for attendees aged 18 to 34, allowing them to "connect with international leaders in an ecosystem that stimulates the spirit of cooperation for a resilient, sustainable future and equitable, inclusive opportunities for the Americas."
Meanwhile, the CEO Summit hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S. State Department began at the InterContinental Hotel on Tuesday. The three- day event will feature business leaders from summit nations discussing "innovative solutions that benefit us all."
Participants are expected to discuss topics including trade, health economies, digital transformation and strengthening inclusion of small businesses in trade and supply chains. Among those set to participate over the three-day span are Mayor Eric Garcetti, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
The Civil Society Forum connected to the summit began Monday at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and will continue through Wednesday. That event is billed as a forum for "direct engagement between leaders and independent civil society representatives from all of the countries of the Americas." It will "elevate voices from across the hemisphere focused on a wide range of issues yet together committed to ensuring democracy delivers for the people of our hemisphere."
On Tuesday, the nonprofit Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles announced a Host Committee of the Summit of the Americas to welcome delegations. The committee is chaired by Casey Wasserman of the Wasserman Foundation, who is also chair of the Organizing Committee for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Committee members also include The Annenberg Foundation's Wallis Annenberg, USC President Carol Folt, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, former Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger and Snapchat's Evan Spiegel.
"Our distinguished Host Committee reflects the best of Los Angeles and demonstrates the importance of this convening to our nation," Garcetti said. "The support of the Mayor's Fund and the Host Committee is essential to both the city's role in this gathering of global leaders and to the summit itself."