Blockade centre of debates at the Summit of the Americas

News from Cuba | Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Argentinean president, Cristina Fernández, called for "the lifting of the blockade of the sister Republic of Cuba," and called it an "anachronism"

PORT of SPAIN, April 17.- The 5th Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, which brings together the leaders of the 34 countries of the hemisphere with the sole exclusion of Cuba, began its sessions that will last until Sunday, with a speech by Argentinean president, Cristina Fernández, in which she called for "the lifting of the blockade of the sister Republic of Cuba," a policy she called an "anachronism."

Speaking on behalf of the countries of the south of the hemisphere, the Argentinean leader urged them not to lose the opportunity of "building a new regional order" in line with the transformations of this world, leaving behind "what was a traumatic relationship for many decades" with United States.

The applause that her words received confirmed the predictions by the press and international analysts that, in spite of not being on the official agenda of this meeting, the topic of Cuba would dominate the debates.

For his part, the president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, on behalf of the Central American region, called for efforts so that the Latin American people leave behind poverty a nd illiteracy, and explained that the struggle that the Nicaraguans have for liberation from these scourges has the generous support of Cuba and Venezuela, solidarity that he described as "unconditional."

He said he felt uncomfortable and ashamed in this Summit, which he refused to call "of the Americas," because there were two great absentees: Cuba, "whose crime has been to stand for its independence, for the sovereignty of its people" and "offering solidarity, without conditions, to other nations." For having done that, he said, Cuba "is sanctioned and excluded" and the fellow nation of Puerto Rico, "still subjected to colonialist policies."

Speaking on behalf of the northern area of the continent, United States President Barack Obama did not avoid the topic; in one of the paragraphs of his speech, he said that the United States is seeking a "new beginning" in the relations with Cuba. "I know there's a longer journey that must be traveled to overcome decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day," and pointed out to the message that was delivered previously to the press by the White House.

As on previous occasions he said that Cuba should take "reciprocal steps," and he added that he was not interested in talking just for the sake of talking, and that he believed US-Cuban relations could move in a new direction."

To the other Heads of State and of Government present at the meeting in Port of Spain, Obama promised to seek "an equal partnership," and "to launch a new chapter of engagement." Obama said all that had changed, because United States had also changed, and on this added that he had not gone to Trinidad and Tobago "to debate the past -- I came here to deal with the future," indicating with his words that he wanted to scrap an imperial history that has opened up deep wounds in the US's neighbors to the south for more than a century, and that is still causing havoc.

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