Days earlier, leaders from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean had gathered in the city of Palenque, Chiapas, to discuss a regional strategy to deal with the growing migration crisis in the hemisphere. The official joint statement stemming from that meeting adopted a decidedly political posture, warning that the negative effects of climate change were among the root causes of migration. The Palenque Declaration stated that “the main structural causes of migration are political, economic, social and the negative effects of climate change.”
In commentary seldom seen in official summit communiqués, the joint statement explicitly criticized the “negative effects” of unilateral coercive measures, commonly known as sanctions, on “the most vulnerable people and communities.”
The inclusion of an expressly political posture vis-a-vis sanctions stems in part from the in-person attendance of both Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Cuba’s Miguel Díaz-Canel. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has frequently defended the political legitimacy of both leaders, made a point of inviting leaders from the countries with high emigration. Both Caracas and Havana maintain that their economic troubles are the product of the United States economic blockade on their countries.
The Palenque Summit was designed to generate a united regional response to the disproportionate influence the U.S. has on the issue — as a matter of fact, US officials were not even invited to attend. López Obrador stated he intended to hand deliver the message from the summit to US President Joe Biden when he met with him at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco.
The Palenque Declaration’s call for the end of the US’s unilateral coercive measures was warmly embraced by Venezuelan President Maduro. He commented that the emigration issue could be quickly resolved if US sanctions were lifted.
Venezuelan migrant Otoniel Marín who is living in the Mexico City camp said that if the situation in the country improved, he would happily return to Venezuela.“That is our country, where we were born and raised, where our family lives, even if it meant starting over, we would return to our homeland,” said Marín.