6 articles on Trinidad Summit‏

Venezuela to Host ALBA Summit on April 14

HAVANA, Cuba, April 6 (acn) Venezuela will host a summit meeting of the
Bolivarian Alternative for Our Americas (ALBA) on April 14 and 15 this
month, announced President Hugo Chavez.

In a telephone contact with Radio Nacional de Venezuela from Tokio,
Japan, where Chavez started an official visit on Sunday, the Venezuelan
leader said the meeting is very important as it will take place prior to
the 5th Summit of the Americas.

Chavez said that the occasion will be appropriate to discuss and adopt
common positions that will be taken to Trinidad and Tobago, the venue
for the Americas Summit, and he announced that he is going to introduce
the issue of Cuba’s isolation by the U.S blockade on the meeting’s agenda.

Attending the event will be heads of state Daniel Ortega, from
Nicaragua; Manuel Zelaya, Honduras; Evo Morales, Bolivia, Dominica’s
prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit; a Cuban government official and
Paraguay’s President Fernando Lugo, who will participate as special
guest, reports Prensa Latina.

The Venezuelan president said: “if they want to continue with the same
excluding rhetoric (about the blockade of Cuba), it will mean then that
nothing ha s changed. Everything remains the same.”

Chavez stressed: “Cuban is a point of honor for the people of Latin
America. We cannot accept that the U.S continues to ride roughshod over
the peoples of our Americas.”

“Riding roughshod over Cuba is like riding roughshod over Venezuela and
that will have to be stated in Trinidad and Tobago. Nobody will be able
to shut us up,” said Chavez.


MIAMI HERALD Posted on Tuesday, 04.07.09

THE AMERICAS U.S.-Cuba policy takes center stage at Americas summit

President Barack Obama is expected to address Cuba travel policy as
ressure mounts leading up to the Summit of the Americas.

BY LESLEY CLARK

[email protected]

WASHINGTON — The White House advisor to the upcoming Summit of the
Americas on Monday confirmed President Barack Obama’s intention to ease
family travel and remittances to Cuba in coming days and wouldn’t rule
out a meeting between Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Even as he acknowledged the widespread interest in Cuba and increased
pressure to fully lift the U.S. economic embargo, advisor Jeffre y S.
Davidow stressed the administration’s hope the communist-ruled nation
would not dominate next week’s gathering of the 34 hemispheric leaders.

”In a way, we believe it would be unfortunate if the principal theme of
this meeting turned out to be Cuba,” Davidow said.

“I think there are a lot of very important issues that warrant
discussion, whether it’s economic issues, social inclusion, environment
or public safety.”

Pressed on whether Washington might go beyond its already stated intent
to lift travel restrictions for Cuban Americans, Davidow said U.S.
policy toward Cuba is undergoing strategic review.

”We are engaged in a continual evaluation of our policy and how that
policy could help result in a change in Cuba that would bring about a
democratic society,” said Davidow, a former ambassador to both Mexico
and Venezuela.

VENEZUELA

On Venezuela, Davidow was asked at a media briefing whether a meeting
would take place with leftist Chavez.

” . . . There will be ample opportunities for discussion,” he said.
“I know the president is going to Trinidad with the desire and the
interest to talk to all of his colleagues.”

Should a discussion between Obama and Chavez occur, a key issue is sure
to be Cuba.

It’s been decades since there was this much of a push to make changes to
Cuba policy — and experts say it’s no coincidence that it’s happening
just before the biggest gathering of hemispheric leaders.

Cuba is the one country in the region that is not a member of the
Organization of American States; its membership was suspended in 1962.
Yet it’s the only nation expected to compete with the global financial
crisis for Obama’s attention.

Heads of state will gather in Trinidad from April 17 to 19 to discuss
issues including trade, the environment and the worldwide recession.

But among the hot topics is mounting pressure to reinstate Cuba’s
membership to the OAS and lift long-standing sanctions.

POLICY IN SPOTLIGHT

In the coming days, Obama is to announce a change to Cuba policy to
allow Cuban Americans annual visits with relatives on the island and
send them money as often as they like.

Pressure is mounting for Obama to do more. A procession of Latin
American presidents has visited Havana in the past months, publicly
underscoring how Washington’s policy is out of sync with the rest of the
hemisphere. The House and the Senate held back-to-back press events last
week to advocate bills that would change Cuba policy. Even a top
Republican on the Senate foreign relations committee wrote Obama last
week asking him to appoint a special envoy for talks with Cuba and to
begin discussions about including Cuba in the OAS.

Cuba’s current leader, Raul Castro, met Monday with a Congressional
Black Caucus delegation, his first meeting with U.S. officials since
taking office last year.

Even Fidel Castro weighed in on the debate for improving relations.

”There is no need to emphasize what Cuba has always said: We do not
fear dialogue with the United States,” the retired leader Castro wrote
in a column this week.

“Nor do we need the confrontation to exist as some foolish people
think; we exist precisely because we believe in our ideas and we have
never feared dialogue with the adversary.”

SUPPORT FROM CHAVEZ

Chavez also is pushing hard for Cuba to be readmitted to the OAS and to
participate in future summits.

As a nondemocratic state with a sullied history on human rights, Cuba
does not qualify for membership under OAS rules. But as more Latin
American countries elect leftist presidents, the decision to kick Cuba
out is being portrayed as a Cold War relic.

”All the countries of the Americas — with the exception of Cuba — are
going to the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago,” Chavez
said last week. “Why does Cuba continue to be on the outside? Venezuela
is going to firmly propose this. We can’t continue accepting the
impositions of the North American empire.

“This continent has to be free.”

At his briefing Monday, Davidow was quick to depict Cuba — not
Washington — as the hemisphere’s Lone Ranger.

”Back in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, when governments in the hemisphere
were run by military dictatorships [with] no free press, Cuba — though
special — was not totally unique,” he said.

“Now it clearly is the odd man out.”

ACuba expert Philip Peters, who advocates normalized relations with the
island, says the rest of the region views it differently.

”They think this is ridiculous,” said Peters, vice president of the
Lexington Institute think tank.

“They see this as a big moment to urge to change policy. There is a
summit agenda, a basket of issues, tons of blah blah blah, but in terms
of public interest and news interest, Cuba is going to be the big issue.”

Miami Herald staff writer Frances Robles contributed to this report from
Miami.


PROGRESO WEEKLY April 9 – 15, 2009
The new South America By Ignacio Ramonet

>From Le Monde Diplomatique

The recent victory in El Salvador of Mauricio Funes, candidate or the
Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN), has a threefold
meaning. For the first time, the Left manages to wrest power from the
hard-line Right, which had always dominated this unequal country (0.3
percent of Salvadorans hoard 44 percent of the wealth). More than
one-third of all Salvadorans live under the threshold of poverty and
another third is forced to migrate to the United States.

Funes’ success at the polls also demonstrates that the FMLN was right
when, in 1992 and in the context of the end of the Cold War, it
abandoned the guerrilla option after a 12-year conflict that took 75,000
lives, and adopted the road of political combat and the ballot box. At
this point, in this region, an armed guerrilla movement is out of place.
That is the subliminal message sent — particularly to the Colombian
FARC — by this FMLN victory.

Finally, Funes’ victory confirms that the winds that are favorable to
the Lefts continue to blow strongly in South America [1]. Since Hugo
Chávez’s historical victory in Venezuela 10 years ago, which cleared the
road, and despite the media campaigns of fear-mongering, more than a
dozen progressive presidents have been elected by popular vote on
platforms that announce social transformation of great breadth , a
fairer redistribution of wealth, and the poli tical integration of
social sectors that were previously alienated or excluded.

While in the rest of the world (very particularly in Europe) the Lefts,
distant from the popular classes and committed to the neoliberal model
that has caused the current crisis, appear exhausted and bereft of
ideas, in South America, stimulated by the powerful energy of the social
movement, the new socialists of the 21st Century overflow with political
and social creativity. We are witnessing a renaissance, a true
refounding of that continent and the final act of its emancipation,
initiated two centuries ago by Simon Bolívar and the other Liberators.

Although many Europeans (even leftist Europeans) may not know it —
because of the colossal wall of lies erected by the big media
conglomerates to conceal the truth — South America has become the most
progressive region in the planet. It is the place where more changes are
being made in favor of the popular classes and where more structural
reforms are being adopted to emerge from dependence and underdevelopment.

Beginning with the experience of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela,
and with the encouragement of presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and
Rafael Correa of Ecuador, an awakening of the indigenous people has
taken place. Significantly, these three states have resorted to
referendums to write new Constitutions.

Shaken to its foundations by winds of hope and justice, South America
also has given a new di rection to the great dream of integration of the
p eoples, not only of the markets. In addition to the Mercosur, which
shelters the 260 million inhabitants of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay,
Uruguay and Venezuela, the most innovative institution in its promotion
of integration is the Bolivarian Alternative for the People of Our
America (ALBA).

Its members [2] have achieved a stability that allows them to devote
themselves to the struggle against poverty, misery, alienation, and
illiteracy, to guarantee their citizens an education, health care,
housing and decent jobs.

Thanks to the Petrosur project, those nations also have achieved a
greater energy cohesion, as well as a significant increase in their
agricultural production that will enable them to achieve food
sovereignty. Thanks to the creation of the Bank of the South and a
Common Monetary Zone (ZMC), they are also moving toward the creation of
a common currency that could be named the sucre [3]

On March 9, several South American governments [4] took a step that
seemed inconceivable: they decided to form the Council for South
American Defense (CDS), an organization of military cooperation created
through the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), an organization
founded in Brasília in May 2008.

Thanks to these recent instruments of cooperation, the new South America
will attend — more united than ever — its big date with the United
States at the Summit of the Americas in Port-of-Spain (Trinidad &
Tobago), April 17-19. There, the S outh American leaders will engage in
debate with the new President of the United States, Barack Obama, who
will state his vision of U.S. relations with its neighbors to the South.

In his recent visit to Washington, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula
da Silva asked Obama to totally lift the United States’ economic embargo
against Cuba, arguing that it is opposed by all the countries in the
region [5]. On March 11, Washington announced that Cuban-Americans may
visit whoever they want on the island once a year and remain in Cuba as
long as they wish. Although during his presidential campaign, Obama
promised to maintain the embargo, it seems that an era of rapprochement
between Havana and Washington is approaching. It was time.

Still to happen is a normalization of relations with Venezuela and
Bolivia. More broadly, Washington must admit that the concept of a “back
yard” is over, that the people of South America have begun their march.
And that this time they won’t stop.

Ignacio Ramonet, a Spanish journalist and writer, was editor of Le Monde
Diplomatique.

Notes:

[1] The concept of South America, which Venezuelan Bolivarianism
supports, surpasses that of “Latin America” because it acknowledges the
participation of indigenous nations and people of African descent, and
encompasses countries and territories whose “Latin Americanness” is
questionable. In other words, the traditional concept of “Latin America”
is unable to define the South American space as a package of realities,
from t he Rio Grande and the Caribbean to Tierra del Fuego. [2] Bolivia,
Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela (Ecuador
is an observer nation.)
[3] Single System for Regional Compensation.
[4] Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana,
Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela.
[5] Costa Rica and El Salvador, the only two countries in the region
that had no diplomatic relations with Havana, announced in March their
decision to reestablish them.


‘Put Cuba on agenda’ _Trinidad & Tobago Express – April 8

By Nigel Cumberbatch / [email protected]

Venezuela has called for a “revision” of the draft of the declaration
regional leaders at next week’s Fifth Summit of the Americas are
supposed to sign at the end of the event.

“There must be a final revision” of the draft because such a declaration
by presidents and heads of government “must be more than a range of
fractions or quotas of interests and ideas of each and everyone of the
participating states,” said Venezuelan Ambassador to the Organisation of
American States (OAS) Roy Chaderton.

“There are too many problems circumvented,” Ambassador Chaderton was
quoted as saying yesterday by the state-owned Bolivarian News Agency.

“The fundamental point for Venezuelan authorities is in the fact that
the Port of Spain summit cannot ig nore the grave historic conditions
that humanity face s today…which have not been duly addressed by
international leadership in previous heads of state and heads of
government meetings,” said Chaderton.

The diplomat stopped short from spelling out any specific issue, but a
burning topic publicly raised by some regional leaders in the past few
days has been the US trade embargo against Cuba and its exclusion from
the April 17-19 summit.

Earlier this week, following a meeting with Nicaraguan President Daniel
Ortega, former Cuban president Fidel Castro raised serious concerns
regarding the draft document, arguing that it “contains a great number
of inadmissible concepts.” Shortly after, Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez echoed Castro’s views and criticised Cuba’s exclusion from the
summit.

Also surfacing yesterday, were reports that the Nicaraguan diplomatic
mission at the OAS had stated that the draft agreement was simply a
proposed document and still requires approval by the presidents and
heads of government during the summit.

According to the reports, the Nicaraguan representatives stated that the
draft agreement contains several political, economic and social issues
where Nicaragua has reservations.

An April 3 press release from the National Secretariat of the Summit in
port of Spain stated that all 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere
“have been able to arrive at consensus” on the draft declaration.


* Bolivia to Demand End of US Blockade of Cuba

*HAVANA, Cuba, April 9 (acn) Bolivia will recommend the adoption of a
resolution demanding the end of the almost 50-year-old US economic,
financial and trade blockade of Cuba during the upcoming Summit of the
Americas scheduled for later this month in Trinidad and Tobago.

According to Geanma news daily, Bolivian President Evo Morales told
foreign reporters in La Paz that the text of the document recommended
asks “the current US Government to immediately end its economic blockade
of Cuba.”

The Bolivian leader explained that ending Washington’s blockade of the
Caribbean archipelago would be the only way to “bring back respect for
the nations’ sovereignty and recognition for international law and,
particularly, international humanitarian law in the Americas.”

Morales added that, first, his country will take the recommendation to a
Summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) that will
take place in Venezuela on April 16th to find regional consensus on the
proposal.


*Expectations for the V Summit of the Americas*

Tom Loudon- Quixote Center

There are high expectations for the upcoming Summit of the Americas,
happening April 17-19 in Trinidad Tobago. It will be President Obama’s
first opportunity to dialogue with Latin American and Caribbean
Presidents. Many hold out hope for a new direction for United States
policies towards our neighbors in the hemisphere.

We continue to look for signs as to what the administration has in
mind. At an event last week in Washington, Jeffrey Davidow, the
Coordinator of the Summit for the Obama Administration offered a few
clues. Davidow said that the U.S. would “focus more on dialogue and
collaboration, be pragmatic, and look for concrete results, social
inclusion and look to reduce extreme poverty.” It is not clear yet how
these words will translate into actions and if they will mean new policy
directions.

Mr. Davidow also said that instead of international treaties, the
U.S. will be looking for “ad hoc” groupings, of governments, NGOs and
businesses, and varied forms of collaboration, depending on the
interests of each country.

In a subsequent press conference, Mr. Davidow responded to a question
about FTA’s by saying that the Summit may not be the best place to take
on bilateral issues, but that they want to “move rapidly in relation to
Panama and getting the Panama trade deal approved by Congress”, and “to
move ahead on the Colombian trade deal as well, and that this will be
done probably more slowly because there are still some benchmarks that
have to be met.”

These statements confirm what we had previously suspected, this
Administration will move forward on FTAs. In other words, little has
changed from the days of the Bush Administration in that respect.
Rather than questioning the model, which has clearly served to increase
inequalities, the Administration proposes minor ‘fixes’. We need to
continue insisting on a change to the model.

When asked about re-establishing diplomatic relations with Bolivia
Mr. Davidow said, “We do have diplomatic relations. We just do not have
ambassadors.” He went on to say: “I think we need to have more
communication, and certainly as a goal, we would like to see the kind of
diplomatic relationship that we’ve had for quite a long time with
Bolivia and Venezuela restored.” Again, encouraging words, but the proof
will become evident shortly.

To date, the signs indicate that the Administration’s actions aren’t
corresponding to their words. The recent trip of Vice-President Biden
to Chile and Costa Rica reveals a preference for a conquer and divide
strategy- a historical tactic of the United States. The Chilean
government is the most right leaning of the South American leftist trend
in recent elections. The decision for Biden to visit Costa Rica, with
the attempt to convene all Central American countries was a diplomatic
affront to the Central American Integration System (SICA) established in
1991. Because Nicaragua currently holds the pro tem presidency of SICA,
the proper course of action for Mr. Biden would to have had SICA host
the meeting. As a result, Presidents Ortega of Nicaragua and Zelaya of
Honduras boycotted the meeting in Costa Rica.

Another disturbing signal, President Obama has chosen to spend the two
days prior to the Summit in Mexico, with one of the few conservative
presidents left in Latin America. Concurrently, Hugo Chavez has
convened a meeting for presidents of the ALBA countries, where he will
be joined by the leaders of Nicaragua, Honduras, the Dominican Republic,
Paraguay and a representative from Cuba. They have stated that they
will be working to develop common positions to bring to the Summit.

President Obama will likely be surprised by what he encounters in Port
of Spain. The dramatic changes which have happened in the region over
the last several years have not yet been internalized by our State
Department. Formulas from the past are doomed to fail. Unless he
begins to accept this reality, U.S. relations will continue to be out of
touch.