The Summit of the Americas is a triennial hemispheric meeting that brings together all of the countries belonging to the Organization of American States (OAS). Established by Charter in 1948, the OAS is headquartered in Washington DC and its precursor was the Pan-American Union or the Conferences of American States, which existed during the early 20th century. Simultaneously, the OAS also takes on legal cooperation and economic development matters as it created the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights back in 1959.
The Summit of the Americas and Hemispheric Affairs
Today, the OAS brings together thirty-five American nations, from Canada to Chile and Argentina. Furthermore, Cuba, who was suspended from the OAS in 1962, had its membership reinstated in 2009. Meanwhile, President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela announced his intention of withdrawing the county from the OAS during 2017. Nevertheless, throughout the last two decades, all OAS members have met regularly every three years for the Summit of the Americas, which was held in Lima, Peru between April 13 and 14. This most recent Summit of the Americas, which was attended by US Vice-President Mike Pence and Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan, is the eighth summit since the hemispheric gathering was institutionalized in 1994.
The First Summit of the Americas was hosted by US President Bill Clinton in Miami in December 1994. Since then, the Summit has been held in Chile in 1998, Canada in 2001, Argentina in 2005, Trinidad and Tobago in 2009, Colombia in 2012, and Panama in 2015. This year’s Summit of the Americas in Peru had as main topic democratic governance against graft and corruption. Likewise, discussions surrounding the ongoing crisis in Venezuela also dominated the Summit, without the presence of sanctioned President Maduro. Additionally, it is important to remember that at least five Latin American countries are undergoing political transitions this year, including the resignation of Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the recent election in Costa Rica, and the upcoming elections in Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil.
As host of the 2018 Summit of the Americas, Peru represents the sixth largest economy in Latin America and the country has experienced positive economic growth above 2.5% in recent years. Specifically, Peru has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$210 billion (PPP). Similarly, the country’s economy is divided into 8% agriculture, 36% manufacturing, and 56% services. Furthermore, it is estimated that the agricultural industry employs 26% of the national labor force, while manufacturing employs 17% and services employ another 57%. Likewise, in Peru, the agriculture industry utilizes 19% of the national territory, while another 53% is forested. Lastly, Peru has a total population of little over 31 million citizens, with an average age of 28 years. Similarly, almost 80% of Peruvians live in an urban setting, notably the capital city of Lima with its 10 million inhabitants.