President Joe Biden departs the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to travel to Los Angeles, Calif., for the Summit of the Americas. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
June 8 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced an economic partnership aimed at addressing inequality during the opening ceremony for the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.
Biden introduced the "Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity," which he said would help economies "grow from the bottom up and the middle out" by shoring up supply chains and creating clean energy jobs.
"What's true in the United States is true in every country: trickle-down economics does not work," he said. "But when we invest in strengthening workers and the middle class, the poor have a ladder up and those at the top do just fine. That's how we can increase opportunity and decrease persistent inequity."
Biden cited the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the Americas, with the White House noting that Latin America and the Caribbean have seen the "deepest economic contraction of any region in the world."
"We need to break the cycle where marginalized communities are hit the hardest by disasters and have the fewest resources to recover from crises and prepare for the next one," Biden said.
The White House noted that the initiative will seek to ensure that there are "diverse, secure, transparent and sustainable supply chains" to prevent shortages and inflation that have been seen since the pandemic.
"Together we have to invest in making sure that our trade is sustainable and responsible and creating supply chains that are more resilient, more secure and more sustainable," Biden said.
The president added that the United States would also unveil another initiative in the coming days that will include a U.S.-Caribbean partnership to address climate crisis, which Vice President Kamala Harris will lead in the United States. A collaboration between the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile and Mexico -- the hemisphere's largest exporters of food -- is also expected to be unveiled with the aim to increase food production for export and fertilizer production for transportation.
Harris, who also delivered remarks, highlighted issues facing the hemisphere, including the climate crisis, food insecurity, economic inequality, corruption and gender-based violence.
"When I think about these challenges, I know and I am certain they will require new and innovative coalitions to solve, which is why President Joe Biden and I see this week as an opportunity for all of us, an opportunity to launch new initiatives, to begin new conversations and to build new partnerships," she said.
The summit was intended to include leaders from South America to Canada and produce meaningful actions on various concerns, such as COVID-19, immigration and climate change.
As Biden went to Los Angeles on Wednesday, however, much of the focus so far has been on leaders who have said they won't be there.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who's said to be a fan of former President Donald Trump, says he's not going because Biden's White House did not invite some leaders of the 35-nation Organization of American States.
Leaders from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were not invited to the summit, which is being hosted this year by the United States. Biden's administration has previously said that it would only invite countries that are committed to democracy and human rights. Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua have been criticized for their records on those issues.
"Looking at the current situation in Cuba, in particular with trials of civil society leaders and similar situations in Nicaragua and Venezuela, we felt that the most appropriate decision was to maintain our own commitment to democracy and human rights in our hemisphere," Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Brian Nichols said according to NPR.
Other nations that won't attend the summit in Los Angeles include Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
President Biden did not invite leaders from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela (pictured) to attend the summit in Los Angeles, due primarily to their past records on issues like democracy and human rights, White House officials said. File Photo by Miguel Gutiérrez/EPA-EFE
The White House said in a statement on Tuesday that partners at the summit plan to "push back against the threats to our democracies by fortifying democratic institutions, investing in civil society, strengthening independent media and following through on a regional digital transformation that is transparent and equitable."
According to administration officials, $477 million has been dedicated so far to implementing the Inter-American Action Plan on Democratic Governance -- which aims to fortify democracy and human rights, fight corruption and support the rule of law in the Western Hemisphere.
Working with Congress, the administration said $75 million will be invested over three years to help empower 300 locally based, community-led civil society organizations.
Another piece of Biden's "democratic renewal agenda" at the summit will be the launch of the Voices Initiative, which intends to promote digital democracy and counter digital authoritarianism, promote freedom of expression and strengthen independent media.
Biden also supports the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse, and Canada and Chile are expected to join the United States in the effort.
At the summit, which runs through Friday, Biden is expected to announce key investments in Central America, explore problems related to immigration and cooperate on continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Summit of the Americas is held every three years and is hosted by various nations in the OAS. The last summit was held in Peru in 2018. The Los Angeles summit was originally scheduled for last year, but was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks as she attends the Capital Pride Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue on Sunday. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo