The Latest: Peru opens Americas summit decrying corruption


U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, left, shakes hands with Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra, before the Summit of Americas inauguration ceremony, in Lima, Peru, Friday, April 13, 2018. (Karel Navarro/Associated Press)

LIMA, Peru — The Latest on the Summit of the Americas (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra has opened the Summit of the Americas by decrying the scourge of corruption in Latin America.

Vizcarra urged Western Hemisphere leaders gathered in Lima Friday to join in adopting measures to increase transparency and boost civil society.

Corruption is a malady Peruvians know all too well: Former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski recently resigned following revelations that he’d failed to disclose payments from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to his private consulting company.

Many of the nations attending are embroiled in their own corruption scandals.

The theme of the gathering is combatting corruption.

A small group of Cuban delegates attending the inauguration walked out when Organization of American States head Luis Almagro took the stage. They were upset over an exchange with Cuban groups protesting at an event he held Thursday.

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4:55 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the United States stands with Venezuelans fleeing the rule of President Nicolas Maduro.

Pence said in a meeting Friday with Venezuelan opposition leaders in Lima, Peru, that “we are with you to see freedom once again.”

The vice president says Maduro has turned Venezuela into a dictatorship and has brought about “abject misery.”

Pence says he will be calling on U.S. allies to provide additional humanitarian aid during the Summit of the Americas in Lima.

Pence says, “We want one message to be clear: We are with the people of Venezuela.”

Opposition leader David Smolansky says Maduro’s government “has become a threat to the region.”

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4:40 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. will provide nearly $16 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans who have fled their country during the political crisis under President Nicolas Maduro.

Pence said Friday in Lima, Peru, that the aid will help Venezuelans in Colombia and Brazil access safe drinking water, shelters, and work and educational opportunities.

The U.S. vice president says Maduro has turned Venezuela into a dictatorship. He says, “We want one message to be clear: We are with the people of Venezuela.”

The funds are through the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Pence is in Lima for an international summit. He was meeting with Venezuelan opposition leaders. They include National Assembly President Julio Borges and former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma

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3:55 p.m.

Cuban President Raul Castro has joined a growing list of foreign leaders skipping the Summit of the Americas.

After President Donald Trump bailed on the summit to stay in Washington, and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela was barred, Castro was expected to dominate the meeting of Western Hemisphere leaders that kicks off Friday in Peru’s capital.

Cuba’s government in a statement Friday said Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez would instead lead the Cuban delegation. Although Castro never officially confirmed he would attend the summit, there were high expectations he would show to bid farewell to regional leaders as he prepares to step down in a week’s time from the presidency.

Dozens of pro-Castro supporters were also present in Lima and on Thursday raucously interrupted a meeting to protest what they consider Cuba’s mistreatment by the Washington-based Organization of American States.

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1:20 p.m.

Mexico’s president says “the door is open” for the United States to join a Pacific Rim trade deal that was initially rejected by U.S. President Donald Trump.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday told business leaders meeting in Peru’s capital that under the right conditions the U.S. would reconsider joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite Trump’s earlier decision to back away from an initial deal.

On Friday, Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto told the CEOs that the U.S. is welcome to “eventually reconsider its decision and take advantage of the opportunity to be part of the TPP.”

The deal was meant to create a sweeping trade bloc and help counterbalance China’s economic influence. After the U.S. pulled out, 11 countries reached a revised deal last month that dropped some clauses that had been meant to benefit the United States.

Mexico also is taking part in a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and Canada due to demands for changes from Trump.

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Noon

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is praising a Pacific Rim trade deal that may have prompted a change of heart from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trudeau spoke at a meeting of hemispheric CEOs on Friday and celebrated the fact that several countries in the hemisphere have shared his government’s vision that free trade agreements unlock tangible benefits and middle-class jobs.

He said the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement is “an ambitious trade deal that puts people first.”

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday told the business leaders that under the right conditions the U.S. would reconsider joining the TPP, despite Trump’s earlier decision to back away from an initial deal.

After the U.S. pulled out, 11 countries reached a revised deal last month that dropped some clauses that had been meant to benefit the United States.

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11:20 p.m.

Senate Democrats are urging Vice President Mike Pence to use his trip to Lima to reset relations with a region where they say President Donald Trump’s immigrant-bashing rhetoric is costing the U.S. influence.

A letter written by New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez and 13 Senate colleagues says that Trump’s derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants and Haiti are “damaging to critical relationships we need to promote our own national interests.”

The letter also chastises the Trump administration for deep cuts in foreign aid, ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for so-called “Dreamers” and for its decision to plow ahead with plans to build a wall on the border of Mexico. The letter blames those policies for declining support for the U.S. in the region at a time China and Russia are making important inroads.

The senators encourage Trump to drop an “America First” policy they say is divisive “and embrace instead an ‘Americas together’ policy.” They say that would “advance our strategic interests in the Western Hemisphere, engage our neighbors in a respectful manner, and build on our shared values.”

A copy of the letter was provided to The Associated Press.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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