LIMA – More than 50 Cuban government supporters and about 10 Venezuelans boycotted on Thursday the start of a meeting among representatives of the Peruvian government and members of civil society from around the Americas, an event being held within the framework of activities surrounding the Summit of the Americas.
When Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro was preparing to inaugurate the meeting, a group of Cubans denounced the “anti-democratic format” of the gathering and did not stop shouting things like “Mercenaries!” during the entire event, chanting slogans and singing the Cuban national anthem.
It had been expected that the meeting prior to the summit of heads of state and government from the Americas would be attended by some Cuban and Venezuelan opposition figures, a situation that evidently sparked the protest by the backers of Havana and Caracas.
Almagro gave a short speech in which he said that it was “regrettable” that the group would not allow the meeting to progress undisturbed and, given the persistence of the protesters’ clamor, organizers announced a pause in the proceedings to try and reduce the tension and noise.
“I have no problem in speaking with music in the background, as I did, and worse things have been done in my life to try and silence me,” Almagro told EFE during the recess.
“I think that we all have to learn from this. There are countries that still have strategies that are on bad terms with democracy,” he added, calling the disruption “regrettable” and “shameful.”
When the session resumed, Cuba’s ambassador to Austria, Juan Antonio Fernandez, said that “We’re not going to dialogue with mercenaries and terrorists and with that whole group that’s arrived here from Miami.”
“Civil society in Cuba is that which is expressing itself here,” said Fernandez, referring to the protesters.
Meanwhile, the US envoy to the OAS, Carlos Trujillo, said that he was “happy that Cuban society has the chance to participate in a true democracy,” such as the one in Peru.
“They have absolutely no respect,” he said of the demonstrators, adding “I respectfully ask these organizations to abandon the hall.”
Venezuela is not officially represented at the Summit this year because the Peruvian government withdrew its invitation to President Nicolas Maduro.