CARTAGENA, Colombia – The 6th Summit of the Americas wrapped up on Sunday with Latin American support for including Cuba at the next continental gathering but without a final declaration due to a lack of consensus among participating nations on that and other matters.
This summit of lights and darks was characterized by its host, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, as one “of dialogue and sincerity,” while his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon, called it “a success.”
In a pair of press conferences after the close of the summit, Santos and Calderon said that the summit had produced favorable results, allowing participants – the leaders of the hemisphere, along with U.S. President Barack Obama – to express and contrast ideas and opinions
As a result, the two leaders said that they considered it a secondary result that no final declaration was issued.
At this summit, for the first time, an official debate was undertaken on sensitive political themes.
Among those matters was the inclusion of Cuba in future summits: “the majority of the countries support the participation of Cuba in the process of the Summits of the Americas,” announced Santos, later clarifying that the Cartagena summit concluded without a final declaration “precisely because there is no consensus” on this subject.
The United States insists that the Caribbean island is not fulfilling democratic requirements, and thus the problem will be transferred to the Panamanian government, which is organizing and will host the next summit in 2015.
The United States will welcome a “free” Cuba at future Summits of the Americas, Obama said Sunday, going on to reiterate that the Communist-ruled nation has not moved toward democracy or respect for human rights.
There was also no consensus on the issues of the Falkland Islands, although summit participants supported a solution through dialogue to the dispute over the sovereignty of the archipelago in the far South Atlantic claimed by Argentina but which currently is held by Great Britain.
Santos also received a complaint from Argentine President Cristina Fernandez for not having made mention of the Falklands – called by Spanish-speaking nations Las Malvinas – in his inaugural address at the summit, when he cited Cuba and the problem of drugs, which was the third sensitive topic discussed at the gathering.
Fernandez on Sunday left the conference before it was officially brought to a close, and she also did not attend Saturday’s gala dinner offered by Santos for the guests, a situation that led observers to infer that the Argentine leader was disturbed at how the issue of the Falklands had been dealt with in Cartagena.
But Santos insisted during his press conference after the close of the summit that Fernandez had told him that “she had to return quickly” to Buenos Aires to deal with a series of problems in her country.
Despite the lack of agreement on main themes, the Cartagena summit did produce some compromises and three communiques.
The most concrete result was the mandate received by the Organization of American States to engage in a rethinking of the fight against drug trafficking with an eye toward greater efficacy after 40 years of head-on struggle.
And with regard to the three communiques, one – at the request of Brazil and Argentina – supported the Rio+20 environmental meeting, another sponsored by Mexico pertained to the fight against organized crime and the third, supported by Colombia, dealt with a regional competitiveness forum.
In addition, regional leaders agreed to work in concert on the summit’s many official themes: poverty and inequality, access to technology, natural disasters and the environment, security and infrastructure.
With these results in hand, the Brazilian presidency’s advisor on international affairs, Marco Aurelio Garcia, said that “the summit ended well” and that the fact that there was no joint declaration “is not the most important thing.”
Garcia said that the relevant result was the exchange of opinions and the fact that this summit was “very political.”
But the Summit of the Peoples, which was held this week in Cartagena in parallel to the leaders’ summit, did not have the same view, with participants saying that the latter “has no future” after this year’s “failure.”
That is what Colombian Enrique Daza, the spokesman for the Summit of the Peoples, said, adding that “everyone has taken note of the ... failure of these summits and the United States.”
He made the negative allusion to the United States with regard to its stance on Cuba and added that the government in Washington “is more isolated every day” on that subject.
Meanwhile, Santos, whose government had said that this would be “the summit of results,” remarked that he was “satisfied,” especially with the results of Obama’s visit to Colombia, during which the two leaders agreed to officially announce the entry into force of the FTA after the bilateral meeting they held following the summit’s close.
Notable absences at the Summit of the Americas were Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in Cuba for further cancer treatment, and Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, who did not attend because of Cuba being barred from the meeting.