HAVANA (AP) — Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel criticized the United States on Friday and pointed out that Washington is not capable of respecting diversity in the region, in the midst of a controversy that precedes the Summit of the Americas, an event to which it seems that Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua will not be invited.
Díaz-Canel spoke during the inauguration of a top-level meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which was attended in this capital by the Venezuelan Nicolás Maduro and the Bolivian Alberto Arce, among others.
“They claim to be promoters of democracy, which they deliberately confuse with their system, but they are not capable of ensuring a plural space. They pretend to be interested in a constructive relationship with our region, but they disrespect differences,” said the Cuban president.
On this occasion, the ALBA meeting was dominated by the controversy surrounding the Summit of the Americas, scheduled to take place between June 6 and 10. Some presidents such as Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica participated with virtual speeches. Other States sent representatives, such as Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada.
ALBA is “inclusive, comprehensive and unitary,” Maduro told reporters shortly before the start of the meeting. “We have convened to give the debate, to establish a very clear position on the meeting that they are convening in Los Angeles and well, a firm, forceful, absolute rejection of the imperial vision that seeks to exclude the peoples of the Americas.”
The day before, Kevin O’Reilly, the State Department official who coordinates the preparation of the Summit of the Americas, said at a hearing in the US Senate that no representative of the Maduro government or the Nicaraguan Executive Daniel had been invited. Ortega, but he left the door open for Cuba to be invited, although on the same day Díaz-Canel ruled out attending.
Maduro and Arce were received on Friday morning on the red carpet of the Palace of the Revolution in Havana before the start of the plenary sessions that would include leaders from the ten countries that make up ALBA.
“These are the moments in which brother countries demonstrate true brotherhood. It’s like a family, ”said Arce upon his arrival. “If they want to have a meeting of friends, let them do it, but they can’t call it the Summit of the Americas. We are all in the Americas”.
In a speech during the meeting, Arce before the other officials confirmed that he will not attend the Summit of the Americas.
The ALBA meeting concluded in the afternoon with a declaration from the dozen countries present rejecting “the arbitrary, ideological and politically motivated exclusion” of several of the countries in the Summit of the Americas.
“This unilateral decision constitutes a serious historical setback in hemispheric relations that offends the Latin American and Caribbean peoples,” indicated the text of the document signed by the participants and read by ALBA secretary Sacha Llorenti.
As a result of the protests before the United States from countries such as Argentina and Mexico, who asked that no nation be excluded from the event, Díaz-Canel thanked the shows of solidarity, but assured that he would not attend. On Friday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that he had not yet decided whether he would go or not.
The Summits of the Americas were created since 1994 by the United States as a way to promote regional policies around forming a free trade area led by Washington, but Cuba was excluded until 2015, when several countries threatened not to participate if the island did not I was invited to the appointment in Panama.
Cuba’s arrival at these forums coincided with a historic rapprochement between Havana and Washington during the terms of Barack Obama and Raúl Castro. In 2018, the island did attend the summit held in Peru.
For its part, the ALBA mechanism was created in 2004 by the late leaders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez. The organization, currently with a dozen active members, functions as a forum for regional coordination and support on economic and social issues.
Thanks to their cooperation, for example, states like Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela declared themselves free of illiteracy, or the governments of small Caribbean countries obtained medical benefits or oil through soft loans.
Andrea Rodríguez is on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP