Barack Obama listens to his Colombian and Brazilian counterparts

at the Americas Summit in Cartagena, Colombia: Was the lack of

progress at the summit a healthy reflection of how power in the

world is becoming more diffuse?



Blaming Washington: Why the Americas Summit was a Bust (El Pais, Spain)


“What do these two issues - drugs and Cuba - have in common? Both allowed the summit’s participants to divert attention from their own failings and put the spotlight on the United States. Why talk about repression in Cuba and freedom of the press in Ecuador, populism in Argentina or militarization in Venezuela, if we can talk about the United States?”


By Moises Naim



Translated By Halszka Czarnocka


April 14, 2012


Spain - El Pais - Original Article (Spanish)

The participants at the 1945 Yalta conference: Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. What would they think of the Sixth Summit of the Americas?


NEWSREEL: Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt meet at Yalta, Feb. 15, 1945, 00:02:00RealVideo

Two summits: Yalta, 1945, and Cartagena de Indias, 2012. At the first, three heads of state were involved; at the second, thirty. At the first, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt decided how they would divide the world among themselves. At the second, the leaders spoke - and haven’t taken any decisions of consequence for the people of the Americas. In a way, that is good. None of the presidents at the summit, not even Barack Obama, concentrates as much power in his hands as the three leaders at Yalta. To understand how much the world has changed, just read the poetic official note from organizers of the Cartagena summit:


“The hummingbird flies fast and travels far. It is, perhaps, the only species in the animal kingdom that travels across the continent with such an impeccable manner of flight … it is a common denominator of the countries in our hemisphere, from Alaska to Patagonia. For all these reasons, the figure of a hummingbird with multi-colored wings has been chosen as the summit logo.” I wondered to myself: “What would the logo of the Yalta conference have been?” And I smiled, imagining the reaction of Stalin or Churchill had they read something like this. Oh, yes, it is a different world.


On the other hand, one must acknowledge that the official agenda of the Americas Summit was very promising. The heads of state spoke of poverty and inequality, natural disasters, information technology, public safety and the physical integration of the continent. All of these are valid issues. And yet two important points have to be made.


The first is that no summit is needed to make progress in these areas. There is a lot countries can do on their own, and indeed, a few have made great progress. But alas, not all. And those that continue in a state of stagnation are not stuck there because of their neighbors. Their own heads of state, despite delivering fiery speeches at the summit, are the cause of this lack of development. The second point is that these issues were not the ones to receive the most attention, and no one expected to make much progress on those that did: drugs and Cuba.


Independent of the summit, there is good news about drugs: 2012 will go down in history as the year in which the ban on thinking about alternatives to the drug policies imposed by the United States was lifted. That doesn’t mean that this clearly failed strategy will be abandoned. But yes, it is now possible to explore other possibilities, and the fact that this happened at Cartagena is a sign of progress.


And then there is Cuba. Several of the presidents are furious that Cuba was not invited to participate in the Summit of the Americas. For them, the fact that the forum is reserved for democratic countries is an irrelevant detail.


And what do these two issues - drugs and Cuba - have in common? Both allowed the summit’s participants to divert attention from their own failings and put the spotlight on the United States. Why talk about repression in Cuba and freedom of the press in Ecuador, populism in Argentina or militarization in Venezuela, if we can talk about the United States?


What might have been an agenda with tangible consequences? Here are two possible points:


1. Latin American disarmament. This is the most murderous region on the planet. It suffers more gun-inflicted deaths than parts of the world that are at war. Why don’t the presidents of the region use the summit (after denouncing the U.S. for its criminal export of firearms) to promote a plan to reduce the number of guns circulating so freely and decimating their people, particularly the young? They could launch an ambitious initiative to organize and mobilize mothers, unions, businesses, universities, media, artists and society in general, to make Latin America a region with fewer guns. A naive notion, I know. But perhaps more naïve is continuing to do nothing.


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Globe & Mail, Canada: Canada Splits with Latin America on Cuba and Drug War
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El Comercio, Ecuador: To Send Message on Cuba, Correa Should Go to Summit
El Universal, Colombia: With No Hope of Doing So, Colombians Ponder Meeting Obama
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El Universal, Mexico: Hypocrite on Drugs, Obama Must 'Clean Own House'
El Heraldo, Honduras: Drug Busts in U.S. Belie the True Danger …
La Jornada, Mexico: Calderon's Bush-Style Militarization of Mexican Politics
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El Universal , Mexico: How Mexico Could Legalize Pot - Whether U.S. Likes it or Not
Excelsior, Mexico: As Blood Flows, U.S. Gets Serious About the Battle for Mexico
Excelsior, Mexico: Relations Between U.S. and Mexico are Deteriorating
La Tercera, Chile Mexico's Drug War: No Way Out But to Fight On
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2. Immigration. I’m not referring to the dysfunctional immigration policy of the United States, which must be reformed. But, while that happens, why don’t the leaders of Latin America do something to improve the way their countries treat foreign workers from neighboring states? When compared to the cruelty and abuse to which poor immigrants are subjected to within Latin America, the inacceptable policy of the United States toward undocumented workers is a paragon of virtue.

Posted by Worldmeets.US


And these are only two issues. There are more. But they won’t be discussed at these summits because that would mean looking within and revealing some horrible truths to the world. That is why it is better to talk about the Castro brothers and marijuana.


Twitter @moisesnaim




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[Posted by Worldmeets.US April 18, 9:02pm]


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