Mérida, 16th April 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Organization of American States’ (OAS) VI Summit of the Americas, held 14 – 15 April in Cartagena, Colombia, closed on Sunday without the signing of a final declaration, with issues such as Cuba’s inclusion in future summits and Argentina’s claim to the Malvinas (Falklands) islands leaving the United States and Canada unable to reach a consensus with other Latin American and the Caribbean nations.
Meanwhile, an alternative Summit of the Peoples held by social movements from all over Latin America called for an end to the United States blockade of Cuba and declared US president Barack Obama a “persona non grata”.
A “Lack of Consensus” on Cuba and Malvinas
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro emphasised that one of the main achievements of the Summit had been to create a “deep consensus” of support among Latin America and Caribbean nations on Cuba’s inclusion in future summits.
Although technically not a member of the OAS bloc, Cuba’s suspension from joining the OAS was lifted in 2009, with U.S. opposition to the island being the main reason preventing Cuba’s attendance at Cartagena this year.
“We want to make it clear that Cuba always has to be with us when a summit concerning all of America is called,” said Maduro after talks finished yesterday.
Maduro confirmed on Friday that the nations of the eight-member Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which includes Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador, will not attend future summits without the presence of Cuba.
“The ALBA countries, and we are sure the other countries of Latin America, aren’t going to attend this type of summit called “the Americas” anymore if the US’s obsolete politics of exclusion is imposed,” he stated, indicating that as a result it could be the last Summit of the Americas.
The ALBA also released a statement on 13 April to coincide with the Summit, calling for Cuba’s inclusion at any future summits and an end to the US economic blockade of the Caribbean country.
Presidents of Ecuador and Nicaragua, Rafael Correa and Daniel Ortega, didn’t attend the Summit in protest at Cuba’s exclusion.
Summit host Juan Manual Santos, President of Colombia, reported to press yesterday that the gathering did not reach a Final Declaration due to “not having reached an agreement on the issues of Cuba and the Malvinas”.
He insisted that this didn’t mean the summit was a “failure,” citing the “differences between the US, Canada and the rest of the Western Hemisphere on those issues” which rendered the stalemate inevitable.
“We knew there wasn’t going to be agreement” he said.
With regards to the Malvinas Islands, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner thanked the backing of “more than 30 countries” at the summit that voiced support for the Argentine claim to the islands, which currently belong to the United Kingdom.
Maduro also went on to express his desire to see initiatives put forward so that a negotiation process for the “decolonisation of the Malvinas islands” could be undertaken.
The Summit did agree on three official communications, as well as to work together in the areas of natural disasters, citizen security, integration of infrastructure, the use of information technology, and the eradication of poverty.
Meanwhile the OAS was mandated to undertake a review of its regional anti-drugs policy, with some voices calling for legalisation and regulation of the trade over the militarised approach favoured by the US.
The Summit of the Americas ended with the presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Peru absent from the official photo. The Presidents of Brazil and Argentina left before the closing ceremony.
The next Summit of the Americas is set to be held in Panama in 2015.
The “Secret Summit”
The Summit also received sharp criticism from some journalists for holding the talks behind closed doors. Reporters for Venezuelan state channel VTV complained of “information censorship” and that the 1,600 accredited journalists at the summit were “totally restricted” in their access to information on the debates between the heads of state.
The Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega dubbed it the “secret summit,” arguing that “the decision was imposed by the North, as issues were going to be debated that could have shown that Cuba isn’t isolated, but rather the Empire [the US]”.
Meanwhile Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, also attributed the secrecy to “a fear that the peoples of the world will hear who are the enemies of integration and inclusion”.
The Summit of the Peoples
Alongside the meeting of heads of state in Cartagena, an alternative V Summit of the Peoples was held by social movements from across Latin America.
Over three days thousands of activists discussed social, political and economic issues concerning the continent, as well as holding a march through the streets of Cartegena.
The Summit of the Peoples agreed upon a Final Declaration, which called for opposition to neo-liberalism, for social rights to be guaranteed and the promotion of a “new financial architecture” in the Americas comprising the Bank of the South and the Latin American Reserve Fund.
The movements also demanded the demilitarisation of the continent and the closing of all US military bases, as well as an end to the US blockade of Cuba.
The Summit of the Peoples Final Declaration can be read in Spanish here.