ALBA nations wait for the United States’ response to their request for Cuba’s participation in the Summit of the Americas, scheduled for April in Colombia.
In politics: “It is easy to release the sparrows, what’s very difficult is to make them fly back.”
The first part of the previous statement coincides with the behavior of Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, who, in the latest Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), proposed the members of the bloc to make their presence at the Summit of the Americas conditional on Cuba’s participation. The second part will be the decision of the U.S. diplomatic corps.
In the beginning, the ALBA nations’ demand seemed a boycott, an action that could give the United States the opportunity to try to look like the victim, considering its control of the media and capability to manipulate the public opinion, while also getting rid of the presence of Chávez, Evo, Ortega, Correa, and other progressive leaders.
The worst that could happen is that some countries would participate in the summit meeting slated for April in Colombia, and others wouldn’t; which would create an atmosphere that could put important projects in jeopardy. But, it did not happen because the ALBA nations showed their fortitude, willpower, in addition to sophistication.
The proposal forced the Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs to take action; she traveled to Havana to meet with Cuban authorities. The Minister was received by her Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla and by President Raúl Castro.
Meanwhile, the ALBA nations, acting as if they were dealing with an emergency situation, called a meeting of its Political Council ten days later in the Cuban capital, which brought together representatives of all members of the bloc; and through Special Declarations adopted a stance that showed both cohesion and consensus around key political subjects:
(1) To demand Cuba’s participation in the Summit of the Americas;
(2) The inclusion of the end of the United States’ economic blockade on Cuba as an item on the meeting’s agenda;
(3) Support for Argentina’s claim for sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.
The ALBA Political Council recalled the existence of several resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, as well as agreements reached by other international organizations, on the blockade against Cuba and Argentina’s fight for the recognition of its rights.
Thus, what originally appeared to be a threat to boycott the Summit by the eight ALBA member states, turned into their demand for Cuba’s invitation, as well as its participation in the preparation of the agenda of the meeting, the name of which, suggests that it concerns all countries of the continent. It is also noteworthy that the ALBA nations gave the United States a window of opportunity to maneuver.
The stance adopted by the ALBA nations is moderate and constructive. They are demanding something all Latin American countries and almost the entire international community have agreed on, which came as no surprise for the United States that is aware of that position and can elaborate its answers.
Hence, it could give President Obama the opportunity to take up again the attitude adopted during his first appearance in the Fifth Summit of the Americas, held in 2009 in Port of Spain, when he outlined the idea of a “new beginning” in the United States’ relations with Latin America.
So, rather than having the United States on the ropes, the ALBA member nations are giving it the opportunity to make the decisions that will take it to the right side in history. Instead of creating conflicts, the presence of President Raúl Castro in the meeting could become a good opportunity and mark a turning point.
During the Summit of the Americas and other forums, Obama or any other spokesperson for the White House could stammer out arguments in favor of exclusion and the blockade against Cuba, but they can not hope to be backed by a single country. In that field the rule “Not even a little bit” is applied. They know that much.
Translated by Xelcis A. Presno
Revised by Emilio R. Febles Hernández