When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Biden's Democracy Summit: The Sad Truth About The Invitation List

Can the countries the United States have invited to an exclusive summit on democracy safeguard and spread a system that is inherently flawed and fragile?

Biden's Democracy Summit: The Sad Truth About The Invitation List

The U.S. invited Taiwan to take part to the Summit for Democracy

Marcos Peckel


BOGOTÁ — Don't expect much from the Summit for Democracy, summoned by the U.S. President Joe Biden.

Slated later this week, it follows other initiatives to defend and promote democracy worldwide, and will convene by video remote the representatives of 110 invited countries, which the U.S. State Department considers democracies.

Its three stated objectives are: defense against authoritarianism, fighting corruption and promoting respect for human rights.

The first controversy around the gathering emerged from the guest list, which includes some of the United States' chief regional allies.

Whatever the concerns, they are of particular importance amid an incipient, reemerging cold war with China.

Who's in and who's out

The least represented regions will include Central America, the Gulf, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and North Africa. From the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq were invited, with the latter included to show that the 2003 invasion achieved something. Tunisia, an erstwhile example to hold up from the Arab Spring, was not invited. It is slowly, though not inevitably, sliding toward authoritarian rule.

Was there an inherent, democratic flaw that has brought this regression?

The invitation to Taiwan was clearly a slap at China, which has, alongside Russia, derided the summit as a bid to divide the world and foment a "cold war mentality." The summit excluded the usual suspects from Latin America — Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela — but also Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Bolivia. For better or worse these last four have democratically elected governments.

Joe Biden at the 2021 NATO Summit in Brussels

Nicolas Landemard/Le Pictorium Agency/ZUMA

How much do we value democracy?

At a time of grave deterioration in liberal democracies, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, and when a creature we thought extinct, the putsch, has reemerged with dismal vigor, one wonders, was there an inherent, democratic flaw that has brought this regression? How far does the balance between liberty and prosperity lean toward the former? How much do societies value the separation of powers and freedom of expression?

Rocky terrain, with uncertain objectives.

One would have to somehow confirm Winston Churchill's familiar opinion that democracy was the worst system, bar all others. Because while improvements in material prosperity are palpable in places like China and Vietnam, which are under one-party rule, in some democracies, inequality and vulnerability have increased.

Perhaps in addition, we should not underestimate the "DNA" of some societies that seemingly, would rather live under big leaders and tyrants, to avoid democracy's ups and downs.

Biden's summit and other moves to spread democracy have entered rocky terrain, with uncertain objectives. At the end of the day, it is for nations themselves to defend their democracies.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest