KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — This country will join its ALBA counterparts in boycotting future Summit of the Americas if Cuba, the Western Hemisphere’s only communist state is not invited.
“We express our decision not to take part in future Summits of the Americas without the presence of Cuba,” ALBA — the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas — said it in a statement in Cartagena, Colombia, where the summit meeting ended without a final statement of consensus on Sunday.
ALBA, which groups Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), also demanded an immediate end to the United States’ 50-year-old “inhuman economic, trade and financial embargo against Cuba”.
The ALBA statement urged the countries of the region “to continue to maintain its united solidarity in favour of Cuba’s admission to the summit”.
It said Cuba is an integral part of the Americas and “has the unconditional and unquestionable” right to participate in the summit.
Cuba has never taken part in a Summit of the Americas, a regular meeting sponsored by the Organization of American States (OAS).
The Caribbean nation was expelled from the OAS in 1962 at the height of the Cold War. And while the expulsion was rescinded in 2009, Havana has refused to return to the US-based organization.
Washington says that Havana is ineligible to attend because it lacks democratic credentials and does not “respect the human rights of the Cuban people”.
“Cuba, unlike the other countries that are participating, has not yet moved to democracy,” U.S. President Barack Obama said at a press conference on Sunday.
At home, Obama is preparing for election in November.
By refusing to sign a statement that would have called for the next summit meeting to include Cuba, he avoided antagonizing some Cuban-American voters in Florida, a crucial battleground state in the election, according to the New York Times.
Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa boycotted the summit because of the exclusion of Cuba while ALBA initiator and godfather, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez — a stern critic of Washington and its policies — who is battling cancer, did not attend based on the advice of his doctors.
But the summit ended with the United States and some others countries sharply divided over whether to continue excluding Havana from such gatherings.
The attack on the U.S. position began on Saturday when host president and Washington ally Juan Manuel Santos said, “Isolation, the embargo, indifference, turning away, have all already shown their ineffectiveness.
“In today’s world, that’s not a justifiable path. It’s an anachronism that ties us to the era of the Cold War that was overcome decades ago.”
In 2010, opposition politicians and commentators in Kingstown said that ALBA had encouraged SVG to vie for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
They said the move was instigated by ALBA in an effort to undermine the bid by Colombia, which the left-leaning bloc viewed as being closely allied to Washington.
But Santos told leaders gathered in his country on Saturday, “It’s time to get beyond the paralysis caused by ideological stubbornness.”
He added that Cuba is an example of “the consequences of not overcoming the paradigms of the past, of the absence of bridges and creativity”.
The summit was held under the theme “Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity”.