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Why BAJI Protested the 2022 Summit of the Americas

Jun 25, 2022 | BAJI Policy & Research

By, Ronald Claude

In early June 2022, BAJI joined hundreds of organizations from around the world to protest the ninth Summit of the Americas. 

This is the only official convening of heads of state and high-level government officials in the western hemisphere (North, South, and Central America, and the Caribbean) where they discuss regional concerns and interests. The Summit is organized by the Organization of American States (OAS), and held every two to three years. The US hosted this year’s summit with “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” as the theme.  

The Biden administration flubbed this year’s summit by excluding Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela for their “lack of democratic space and human rights situations.” This is an incredibly hypocritical stance for the US to take as many of the countries of the Americas have indicted the OAS as an instrument for advancing US hegemony and imperialism in the region. During the summit, the Biden administration did not acknowledge its role in the instability of multiple countries in the region including its interference in regime changes and economic sanctions on Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

BAJI works to abolish all the systems that keep Black people from achieving racial, economic, and social justice. The OAS summit is another tool of US imperialism that impedes Black people from achieving justice. The US has exported harm throughout the Americas, and the people most impacted are Black. Many of the world leaders who attended the summit are complicit in treating Black migrants worldwide as unwelcomed invaders. BAJI knows asylum seekers leave their homes because they have to and not because they want to. No country, least of all the US, has the authority to dictate where migrants can seek refuge. Migration is a human right. 

BAJI was one of over a hundred grassroots organizations who assembled in LA to protest the summit. We attended the People’s Summit, a counter convening, in solidarity with our comrades addressing issues facing the Black diaspora across the Americas. BAJI staff participated in press conferences, panel discussions, workshops, and a march and rally over the three days of the summit. 

We demanded that world leaders respond humanely to migration and not criminalize migrants. We highlighted the violence perpetuated by the US through policies like Remain in Mexico, metering, and Title 42.  We articulated our critique of US policies that have contributed to over 25,000 expulsions of Black migrants in the last year – policies that have been exported and imposed in Mexico, the Northern Triangle, and South America. These US policies trap Black migrants in countries where they are subjected to anti-Black violence and discrimination, and are denied fundamental human rights such as food, housing, and healthcare. 

Others at the People’s Summit highlighted the US’ multiple ongoing violations of human rights, both domestic and international. 

We were honored to organize with other Black-led organizations and leaders from around the world to call out the United States’ violence toward Black people throughout the Americas, including Black migrants. We networked and strategized future actions and organized a community dinner with Black attendees. We hosted a press conference to center Black people across the Americas and our needs, aspirations, and demands. And notably, we announced the release of our upcoming comprehensive report that lays bare how the US has exported and expanded harm experienced by Black migrants crossing South and Central America, and Mexico as they attempt to request asylum in the US.

We’re grateful and proud of the work we were able to accomplish with our comrades during the People’s Summit. BAJI took a pivotal step in our fight against US imperialism and its attempt to spread its anti-Black policies across the Americas.