Speaking at the 5th CARICOM-Cuba Summit held on December 8, 2014, Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz thanked the government of Panama for its invitation to participate in the upcoming 7th Summit of the Americas and expressed Cuba’s willingness to participate as an equal, without pre-conditions, reaffirming that this does not in any way imply a return to the Organization of American States (OAS). The summit hosted by Panama will be held in April 2015.
This is the first time Cuba will participate in the continental summit since its creation in 1994 and the first time it is invited. The government of Panama sent the official invitation to Cuba on December 6, when it sent its invitation to other countries. Cuba has not been allowed to participate in the summit that is comprised of the heads of state of all the countries of the Americas, because of its removal from the OAS on January 31, 1962 on the basis of straightforward anti-communism. At the last summit, held in Cartagena, Colombia, in April 2012, despite the overwhelming consensus of the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, Cuba was again prevented from participating because of the objections of the United States and Canada, who arrogantly demanded that Cuba initiate “democratic reforms” before being allowed to join. That the summit could no longer continue to exclude Cuba and have any legitimacy has been the consensus since at least the 2009 summit in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
In 2012 the government of Cuba pointed out that “Cuba has never requested to attend the Summit of the Americas, but supports the unanimous demand of the ALBA countries to cease the exclusion.” It has always opposed the position of the U.S. and Canada as unacceptable and unjustifiable.
Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Panama’s Vice President and Foreign Minister, announced to the press during a visit to Miami on December 6 that even with the incongruities of the region, “the issues that unite us are the most important and we are going to be focused on them. To do this, the entire American continent must be present.”
A few days earlier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that issues to discuss between presidents are more important than thinking about who will attend the Summit. The State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, also assured that “Certainly the conference can be credible” even if Cuba attends.
A spokesman for the Harper government echoed that same position in an email, indicating clearly that its aim remains the same. “Like the U.S., we are prepared to see Cuba join other nations at the Summit, but we want to see a future for Cuba that fully embraces the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” the email said.
(With files from: ACN, OnCuba, National Post)
Source: TML Weekly Information Project