Controversy over Cuba's proposed participation in the Summit of the Americas

News from Cuba | Thursday, 9 February 2012

Statements made at the recent summit of the Bolivarian Alliance of the People of Latin America (ALBA) held in Caracas have stirred controversy over the proposed participation of Cuba in the Summit of the Americas, scheduled for Cartagena, Colombia in April, the Cuba Standard reports. At the ALBA summit, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa proposed that the ALBA countries should boycott the upcoming event if Cuba is not invited to join, prompting Venezuela's President Chávez to affirm "If Cuba goes, we go. If it doesn't go, we won't go." In response, President Raúl Castro stated: "We have never asked for such a measure, but this won't stop us from supporting it, because we consider it very just."

The Summit of the Americas is hosted by the Organization of American States (OAS), and the 34 heads of state of the member countries are expected to attend, including President Barack Obama. Cuba, whose Marxist-Leninist government was deemed "incompatible" with the Inter-American system, had been banned from the OAS in 1962. The ban on Cuba was lifted at the last Summit in 2009, however, José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the OAS, stated on Tuesday that Cuba has not requested to begin the process of dialogue necessary to integrate itself into the organization, EFE reports.

In light of the controversy, Colombia's Foreign Minister traveled to Havana and met with President Castro, stating before her trip that she intended to act as a mediator during the visit, Havana Times reports. No public announcement has been made regarding the outcome of their conversation.

The U.S. has rejected any possibility of Cuba's inclusion in the Summit. Dow Jones reports that an emailed statement from the U.S. Embassy in Bogota states:

The countries of the Americas, by consensus at the 2001 Quebec Summit, made clear the Summit process is open only to democratic countries. The U.S. supports that shared commitment and looks forward to the day when a democratic Cuba takes its rightful seat at a Summit of the Americas. Sadly, that day has not yet come.

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