CARTAGENA, Colombia (AP) — A summit of nearly 30 Western Hemisphere leaders has ended without a joint declaration because of divisions over Cuba and Argentine claims to the Falkland Islands.
“There is no declaration because there is no consensus,” said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos as the summit’s closing news conference.
Washington, backed by Canada, stood fast against widespread demands to include in the meeting’s final declaration language specifying that Cuba be included in future hemispheric summits.
The two countries also balked at backing Argentina’s claims to the British-held Falkland Islands.
“All the countries here in Latin American and the Caribbean want Cuba to be present, but the United States won’t accept,” President Evo Morales of Bolivia told reporters late Saturday. “It’s like a dictatorship.”
Mr. Morales and other leftist leaders have been insistent that this weekend’s meeting in this Caribbean colonial port, which wrapped up at midday, will be the last regional summit under Organization of American States auspices unless Cuba is invited in the future.
But Mr. Santos said the leaders agreed to meet again in 2015 in Panama.
“Hopefully, within three years we can have Cuba” at the summit, Mr. Santos said.
President Obama’s peers lectured him Saturday over his unflagging opposition to Cuban participation because of U.S. objections to the communist-governed Caribbean island’s lack of democracy.
But a senior U.S. administration official said in a briefing for White House reporters Saturday evening that the subject did not come up in any of Mr. Obama’s brief meetings on the summit’s sidelines with the leaders of Guatemala, El Salvador, Argentina and Peru.
The foreign ministers of Venezuela, Argentina and Uruguay earlier said their presidents wouldn’t sign any declaration unless the U.S. and Canada removed their veto of future Cuban participation.
The Cuba issue led Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa to boycott the summit, and leftist Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega also sat out the meeting, though he offered no explanation. Venezuela’s cancer-stricken president, Hugo Chavez, also was absent. He flew Saturday to Cuba, where he has been undergoing radiation therapy.
Even moderates such as Mr. Santos and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said there should be no more Americas summits without the communist island.
The Obama administration has greatly eased family travel and remittances to Cuba but has not dropped the half-century U.S. embargo against the island.
U.S. commercial and political influence in the region has been in decline as China gains on the U.S. as a top trading partner, and many analysts say these regional summits tend to be unwieldy and only make sense if they are a departure for serious follow-up on substantive issues.View Entire Story
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