Cuba Asks for Summit Invite, US Insists on Democratic Reform
February 23, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly
Cuba has expressed interest in attending the 2012 Summit of the Americas, but the United States (US) insists that the country must implement democratic reforms before it is invited, Reuters reported on February 15. The Summit of the Americas, a forum in which countries in the Americas meet to discuss regional issues, will be held in Cartagena, Colombia, on April 14-15. While it is organized by the Colombian government and the Organization of American States (OAS), it is not an official OAS event. The Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA), a regional alternative to the OAS that excludes the US and Canada, insisted that Cuba be included. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, representing the eight-country ALBA, which includes Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica and Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines, stated: “The countries of ALBA ask respectfully but very firmly that our brother government of Colombia invite Cuba to the Summit of the Americas.” Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told TeleSUR that the ALBA countries would not attend the summit without Cuba.
The US said that Cuba must both pursue reforms to strengthen democracy and rejoin the OAS to gain an invitation to the Summit of the Americas, Reuters reported. In a statement emailed to the Wall Street Journal by the US Embassy in Colombia, the US referred to a decision by the attendees of the 2001 Summit of the Americas, which included the ALBA countries other than Cuba: "The countries of the Americas, by consensus at the 2001 Quebec Summit, made clear the Summit process is open only to democratic countries." The OAS also requires members to “guarantee democratic principles” in order to gain entrance to the summit, BBC reported. The OAS democracy mandate for the Summit of the Americas promotes transparent elections, access to justice, and respect for human rights as democratic practices.
Although Cuba seeks inclusion in the Summit of the Americas, the country has not expressed a desire to re-enter the OAS. Cuba was barred from the OAS in 1962 as a response to the 1959 revolution, but the OAS lifted the ban on Cuba in 2009. According to Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, the OAS “has served, for the purposes of domination, occupation and aggression, as a platform for the United States to attack and plunder Latin America and the Caribbean.” Correa called the refusal to invite Cuba part of a “neocolonialism” that has dominated the region. He suggested that rather than the Summit of the Americas, the event should be named a “Dialogue of Certain Latin American Countries with the United States.”
Although Cuba has received an invitation to past summits, the government has sent representatives to protest outside of the official event, the Wall Street Journal reported.
For previous news on Cuba, please see:
Cuban Dissident on Hunger Strike Dies in Custody
BBC – Cuba Eyes Americas Summit Place, but not OAS Return
OAS – Summit of the Americas: Mandates: Democracy
Reuters - Americas Summit Should Include Cuba, Latin Leftists Tell US
TeleSUR – Correa reiteró que no asistirá a Cumbre de las Américas sin Cuba
Wall Street Journal - Cuba Wants to Attend Upcoming Americas Summit; US Rejects Idea