Chile’s leftist President Gabriel Boric appeared not to recognize President Joe Biden’s special climate envoy John Kerry on Thursday at a Summit of the Americas event, speaking out against America for not participating while Kerry was just two seats away from boric.
Boric became president after a nasty election in December in which violent leftists attacked several of his conservative opponent’s campaign events, the culmination of three years of left-wing riots that began as an alleged protest against increases in public transportation in Santiago. Boric, 36, rose to prominence as a Marxist student protester and has described himself in the past as “on the left side of the PC [Communist Party]†
This week’s Summit of the Americas is his first diplomatic tour outside the country since he took office, and of particular political significance given his collapsing approval ratings at home despite being in office for less than a year. The gaffe, which Boric seemed visibly embarrassed about, is unlikely to reassure concerned Chilean skeptics.
Boric spoke at the “CEO Summit of the Americas,” an event on Thursday that brought together several Latin American presidents and envoys from other countries represented, and in particular addressed the signing of an “International Coalition to Connect Marine Protected Areas.” Western South America has seen a major escalation in the past decade of illegal fishing and maritime ecological destruction, linked almost entirely to Chinese ships illegally pillaging the sovereign waters of American countries. Chile, Ecuador and Argentina have been hardest hit.
In his comments, Boric stressed that countries like China should be held accountable for playing a role in preserving the environment, alongside a number of other non-Hispanic countries.
🔴 Presidente Boric rectifica: acusó ausencia de Estados Unidos en lazamiento de coalición por los oceanos, a solo metros de John Kerry. “Solo tengo una pregunta, donde están las cervezas”, replica el enviado estadounidense.
» https://t.co/XEHkd8qkuZ pic.twitter.com/ysIitrVHQk
— T13 (@T13) June 9, 2022
“If we are able to use our leadership to protect what all of humanity is – because this isn’t just about our countries, this is about all of humanity,” Boric claimed, “we will contribute in a decisive way and we will will be able to say with greater authority to developed countries – such as the United States, which are not here, such as the European Union, such as China and such as India – that they have a duty to step up their efforts to protect our environment.”
Minutes later, after receiving a note on a piece of paper from an assistant, Boric corrects himself.
‘Sorry, a small correction on my part. When I talked about developed countries to pressure them here, I thought of Europe, China, India, I mentioned the United States … the United States is here, along with John Kerry,” the president said. “And that is also very important to us. Canada and the US are part of the G7 and I have no doubt that with that leadership we will be able to push the other developed countries to join too.”
Kerry, receiving the moderator’s last word, replied, “I only have one question: where’s the beer?”
Boric has had relatively smooth contact with the Biden administration, including the president himself, this week. The Chilean leader was one of several leftists initially suspected of boycotting the Summit of the Americas in protest against the dictatorships of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua that had not received an invitation. The summit is an event that brings together the leaders of the Organization of American States (OAS), a coalition that requires its members to promote democracy, so dictatorships are technically not allowed. Despite this, Boric, Argentine President Alberto Fernández, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo and Bolivian President Luis Arce would all consider skipping the event in protest. In the end, however, only López Obrador and Arce did not show up.
Boric did criticize the lack of dictatorships in the hemisphere.
“We should all be here and we’re not all here,” Boric said during his comments on Friday. “I do not like the exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua because it would be different to discuss in a forum like this with all countries present the urgent need to release political prisoners in Nicaragua or the moral and practical necessity of the ending the unjust and unacceptable blockade by the United States against the people of Cuba.”
In reality, the “blockade” only affects businesses — which in communism are all regime-owned — and includes exceptions for medical and humanitarian aid.
However, Boric’s comments differed significantly from López Obrador’s complaints, as the latter dismissed concerns about human rights in Cuba during his remarks confirming his boycott on Monday, clearly saying “what then?”
Boric condemned Castro’s regime in an interview with Telemundo this week, claiming: “There are prisoners in Cuba [detained] to think differently and that is unacceptable to us.”
During his meeting with Biden, Boric said in a statement on Twitter that the two “discussed continental strategies to cope with the high cost of living for our peoples.”
En la medida que EEUU entienda que países de América Latina somos sus pares y jamás subordinados, podremos trabajar juntos. There are necessary conditions for a new continental que promueva en mundo la democracia, los derechos humanos y la lucha contra el cambio climatico.
— Gabriel Boric font (@gabrielboric) June 10, 2022
“As long as the US understands that Latin American countries are equal and never subordinate, we can work together,” Boric wrote. “It is a necessary precondition for a new continental agreement to promote democracy, human rights and the fight against climate change.”
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