Cuba calls on Latin America to close ranks against U.S.

Cuba calls on Latin America to close ranks against U.S.

April 18 (Vancouver Sun) – Havana, Cuba called Wednesday on Latin America and the Caribbean to close ranks against U.S. efforts to sow divisions over America’s only communist-ruled country.

The Cuban statement was the regime’s first official reaction to a U.S. rebuff of Latin American efforts to invite Cuba to attend the next summit of the Americas.

“In the face of attempts to divide us and derail us that will come again, (Latin America) needs to stay united,” said the statement, which was published on the front page of the communist party daily Granma.

Latin American leaders who attended the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia over the weekend pressed the case for including Cuba but consensus on the issue was blocked by the United States and Canada.

Discord over Cuba’s non-attendance threatened to upend the gathering, which ended Sunday with no formal declaration and no signing ceremony.

The presidents of Bolivia and Argentina left the meeting before it concluded Sunday, and the leaders of Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Haiti did not show up.

And various nations – including those which also are members of the ALBA bloc of nations founded in 2004 by Caracas and Havana – vowed not to participate in another Summit of the Americas without Cuba.

The bloc, which also called on the United States to end its economic embargo of the island, includes Antigua, Barbados, Bolivia, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Haiti has observer status within the ALBA.

U.S. President Barack Obama said at the close of the summit on Sunday that Cuba had not yet moved to democracy or observed basic human rights.

“I and the American people will welcome the time when the Cuban people have the freedom to live their lives, choose their leaders, and fully participate in this global economy and international institutions,” Obama said.

But he added: “We haven’t gotten there yet.”

Cuba was expelled from the Organization of American States in 1962 at the height of the Cold War. The expulsion was rescinded in 2009, but Cuba has refused to return to the organization.

The Cuban statement reaffirmed Havana’s refusal to return to the OAS, calling the regional organization an “unburied cadaver.”

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the summit host and a US ally, said the policy of isolating Cuba was ineffective, adding, “In today’s world, there is no justification for this anachronism.”