Odd men out: At the Sixth Americas Summit
in Colombia, President
Obama and Canada Prime Minister Harper found
from the other leaders of the Western Hemisphere on the issues
allowing Cuba to attend future summits and how to face drug crisis.
Summit of Americas in ‘Limbo’ (El Espectador,
“We cannot be indifferent to a process of change taking place in Cuba.
We all know this, and that change [in Cuba] must continue. For the sake of the
Cuban people, it is time to overcome the paralysis that had led to stubbornness.”
A man holds a sign that says, 'Obama - Go with the Hookers,' after members of President Obama's security detail had to be sent home for misconduct relating to prostitution, at the Summit of the Americas in Categena, Colombia, April 14.
Juan Manuel Santos tabled one of the thorniest issues: the
inclusion of Cuba in future continental summits.
Amid silence on the part of the Colombian government, which
is hosting the event, the first day of the Sixth Summit of the Americas
concluded in Cartagena on Saturday without agreement on Cuba, the Malvinas or
drugs. The summit brings together 31 leaders from around the continent.
The summit began at noon with an event opened to the press, during
which Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos tabled one of the thorniest issues
- the inclusion of Cuba in future continental summits.
"We cannot be indifferent to a process of change taking
place in Cuba. We all know this, and that change [in Cuba] must continue. For
the sake of the Cuban people, it is time to overcome the paralysis that had led
to stubbornness," Santos said to his guests, including Barack Obama.
And he called for "building bridges" to overcome
the existing differences, because in his opinion, the 50-year embargo imposed on
the Caribbean island by Washington has been "ineffective."
Shortly before the summit began, Obama told the Americas
Business Forum that the issue of Cuba gave him a sense of the "Cold War
era," although in those years he "wasn’t even born," and he said
that, "this is not the world we live in today."
But he also made clear that Cuba is "undemocratic"
and hence, ineligible to attend the summits.
After the opening of the summit, the leaders held a meeting without
media access, the details of which were revealed by some presidents and
ministers afterwards, which was enough to make it clear that there was no
agreement on the sensitive issues.
While the Colombian government remained mum, Peru Foreign Minister
Rafael Roncagliolo confirmed at a press conference
with [Peru] President OllantaHumala
that the host, President Santos, eventually chose to include this sensitive
issue on the agenda.
It is the inclusion of Cuba in upcoming summits and support
for Argentina's claim of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands which “could not
be resolved” at the meeting of foreign ministers, so have to be taken up by the
heads of state," admitted Roncagliolo.
For his part, President Humala spoke
of a "positive agenda" precisely because the inclusion of Cuba attending
the next summit was discussed, and to “correct” this was "right"
because it must "include all."
Bolivia's Evo Morales, one of the
few presidents from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America [ALBA] to attend this summit, was
the one who put his finger in the wound: "all Latin American countries want
to include Cuba, but there is an imposition, a dictatorship, which refuses to
Posted by Worldmeets.US
At a press conference he insisted that it is, "neither
possible nor is it democratic" for one country to deny the call of most
Latin American nations, the governments of which, Morales explained, will raise
the matter directly with Obama.
Morales said he was "disappointed" with Obama, and
with the Colombian Government, for preventing reporters from following plenary sessions
of the summit.
And he said that while he would attend the second day of the
summit, which is a private retreat for the presidents, but that he did not
believe it would be "useful" because these summits are in "a state
of disintegration" thanks to the denial of the United States of the
sentiments in Latin America.
Evidence of this was that, in the run-up to the summit, ALBA
released announced its decision that in future, none of its members would attend
the Summit of the Americas if Cuba was excluded.
And even in Cartagena, leaders of three of the eight ALBA countries,
Ecuador's Rafael Correa, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chavez, failed to
The White House also had news for the plenary session: Obama
announced that the U.S. would boost cooperation and contribute over $130
million this year to security in Central America.
Before the start of the summit, Central American presidents held
a meeting to find a consensus on drugs, a scourge that has a particular impact
on region which is another sensitive topic at the summit.
At the end of the summit’s first day, the 31 presidents
moved to the Guest House, the residence of President Santos in Cartagena, to
hold dinner gala.
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