BOGOTA – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will travel to Havana this week for talks with Cuba’s Raul Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez on possible Cuban participation in the upcoming Americas Summit in Cartagena, Colombia.
The main purpose of the trip, Santos told reporters here Monday, “is to have the opportunity to talk personally, as good friends talk.”
The question of Cuban participation in the summit came to the fore after Cuba’s partners in the ALBA group – Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda – accepted Quito’s proposal to condition their attendance in Cartagena on Havana’s being invited.
The April 14-15 gathering is meant to include the leaders of all 34 countries in the Organization of American States.
Launched in 1994, the Americas Summits have until now excluded Cuba, which was suspended from the OAS at Washington’s behest in 1962.
The U.S. government says Cuba does not meet the criteria to take part in this year’s summit, demanding that Havana make “significant” political reforms and re-establish some kind of ties with the OAS.
The Cuban suspension from the hemispheric was revoked at a June 2009 OAS General Assembly in Honduras, but Havana says it has no interest in any relationship an organization that “has served as a platform for the United States to assault and plunder Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Besides discussing the summit, Santos will address bilateral ties with Venezuela’s Chavez, who remains in Cuba convalescing after flying to the Communist-ruled more than a week ago for cancer surgery.
The Colombian and Venezuelan presidents will also sign some accords they had planned to ink at a March 1 meeting that had to be postponed because of Chavez’s medical situation. EFE