President Obama will make his first big foray into relations with
To be sure, it seems far-fetched to think that the summit’s news coverage would be dominated by the one country in the region that is absent from the event.
But two factors – a no-news summit agenda, and a vocal regional consensus calling on President Obama to change his
Ask yourself which is more interesting – an all-against-one political dispute involving a new American President, or the contents of this page?
As for the regional consensus, consider this sampling of recent statements and actions:
- Trinidadian Prime Minister Patrick Manning, the summit host, says “we don’t want to corner anyone,” but “
is on everyone’s lips,” and he is sure that some leaders will bring it up at the summit. He has “no doubt” that Cuba will be joining future summits. (AP English here, AFP Spanish here.) (Manning, by the way, was scheduled to travel to Cuba last weekend for a check-up following surgery he had performed there last December.) Cuba
- Last December at a summit in
, 33 governments of Brazil Latin Americaand the Caribbeancalled for an end to the embargo. At the same event, U.S. was admitted to the Rio Group, a forum of Latin American governments that does not include the Cuba . United States
- Also last December, a Caricom summit called on President Obama to end the embargo. “The
Caribbeancommunity hopes that the transformational change which is underway in the will finally relegate that measure to history,” Antiguan Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer said. United States
- In his recent visit to the White House, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called for a change in
policy toward U.S. . He told AFP, “What I said to President Obama, and I hope he will make it happen, is that there would be closer ties with Cuba , closer ties with Venezuela , closer ties with Cuba .” Later, in Bolivia , he said this when asked about the embargo: “There is nothing any more from the political perspective, from sociological perspective, from the humanitarian perspective that impedes the reestablishment of relations between the New York and United States .” A few days later, one of President Lula’s advisors said that a normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations would have “an extraordinary effect for the image of the Unied States.” He urged the Cuba to make the first gesture, unilaterally. And he said the United States issue will be raised at the Cuba Trinidadsummit “because there is a very widespread sentiment in Latin Americathat the embargo no longer makes sense.”
- President Zelaya of Honduras appealed for (among other things) an end to the embargo in a December letter to President Obama that was just released and reported by EFE.
- President Ortega of Nicaragua says the
Trinidadsummit will be a chance to discuss the “urgency of lifting the blockade, the embargo, once and for all.” He says the Central American governments are in agreement on that, and in Trinidadthey will also call for ’s inclusion in future summits. Cuba
- President Chavez of Venezuela delivered the same message last week.
’s instigation, the Brazil issue was brought up, of all places, at a meeting of 12 South American defense ministers on March 10. “Today, we see favorable conditions with the new President in the Cuba to put an end to this discriminatory and unjust situation,” United States ’s representative said. Argentina
- Finally, there was the resumption of diplomatic relations with
by Cuba and Costa Rica , which ended the chapter of the Cold War where all the region’s countries except El Salvador broke relations with Mexico nearly 50 years ago. Costa Rican President Arias’ statement sounded as much like an appeal to President Obama as an explanation of his own decision. The Cuba is now left as the only government without normal relations with United States . Cuba
Get the idea?
It may be an exaggeration to say it will be a “no-news” summit, although this snoozer of an op-ed by Vice President Biden in
So it’s little wonder Vice President Biden is talking about the need for a “transition” in