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At last week’s conference in LA, the real activity was outside on the streets

Gideon Long in Los Angeles

The more political summits I attend, the more convinced I am that the best place to be when covering them is not inside in the conference halls, but outside on the streets.

Last week’s Summit of the Americas was no exception.

The gathering of leaders from across the Americas is held every three or four years. This year, it took place in the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center, among the eclectic jumble of residential and commercial buildings that makes up downtown LA. The venue was largely empty. Many people who had initially planned to attend — policymakers, journalists, even presidents — skipped it, figuring they could just as easily follow events online, and that it would probably yield very little anyway. They were mostly right.