This week Denver was picked as the host city for the first Cities Summit of the Americas, a gathering of mayors, city planners and other local officials from many countries across North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Summit of the Americas has been bringing together leaders of nations across the Americas since 1994, when it launched in Miami. This year’s summit, in L.A., is the first since then to be hosted by the United States.
The Summit of the Americas is often mired in controversy — and this year, big players aren’t at the table. President Joe Biden omitted Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua from the invite list, arguing those countries don’t respect democracy.
The snub wasn’t well received by Mexico, where President Andrés Manuel López Obrador decided to boycott the event, arguing every country should have been included. Doing otherwise, he argued, delegitimized the event and was a disrespectful power move on the part of the United States.
“There can be no Americas Summit if all the countries of the American continent do not participate,” López Obrador said, according to the New York Times. “Or there can be, but we believe that means continuing with the politics of old, of interventionism, of a lack of respect for the nations and their people.”
The LA gathering has attracted protesters, including Latin American immigrants blasting El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele and accusing him of failing to uphold democracy, collaborating with gangs, and other forms of corruption, reported the Los Angeles Times.
A counter-event, the People’s Summit, has been convened by union organizers, activists and grassroots progressive organizers in protest of the Summit of the Americas.
The People’s Summit has been held every since 2005.
The Denver Cities Summit of the Americas will be a chance for local leaders to gather to work on the goals established at the Ninth Summit of the Americas.
Hundreds will gather in Denver from both the public and private sectors to include issues like “sustainable development, climate resilience, democracy renewal, foreign direct investment, women’s empowerment, uplifting underserved communities, and public safety,” according to the Mayor Michael Hancock’s office.
“We’re honored to host this inaugural gathering and look forward to welcoming delegates from across the Americas to our great city for these critical conversations,” he said in a statement. “I want to thank the Biden-Harris Administration for selecting Denver to host the first Cities Summit. Bringing together this diverse and international group of local leaders in our community will foster collaboration like many mayors and city administrators have never experienced and inspire an ecosystem of ideas that will benefit local communities throughout the hemisphere.”
The Cities of the Americas Summit will be a chance for Denver brass to showcase the best of the city — the sort of high-profile event, like the All-Star Game or the Democratic National Convention, sure to put the region in the spotlight.
“I’m so excited that Denver and Colorado are playing such a major role in the first ever Cities Summit of the Americas,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “Our state is a natural choice that speaks to the Colorado spirit of connection, collaboration, and innovation. We are proud to welcome the strong network of leaders to foster shared innovations, creative solutions, and best practices to our communities’ most challenging issues.”