USA | May 19, 2022

US accuses Cuba of using Americas summit controversy as ‘propaganda ploy’

/ Our Today

The Cuban flag flutters in the wind after being raised at the Cuban Embassy reopening ceremony in Washington DC on July 20, 2015. (Photo: REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File)


The Biden administration on Thursday (May 19) accused Cuba of fueling controversy over its possible exclusion from the US-hosted Summit of the Americas next month to portray Washington as the “bad guy” and distract attention from Havana’s human rights record at home.

Speaking at a Latin America conference, Kerri Hannan, deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said countries that have threatened to skip the regional meeting if Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua are not invited should attend or else they would lose an opportunity to engage with the United States.

A potential boycott of the June 6-10 summit by a growing number of leaders, including Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has raised the risk of embarrassment for President Joe Biden, who will host the gathering in Los Angeles.

The White House has said it has not yet sent out invitations and refused to provide details. However, a senior State Department official said in April that Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government would likely be excluded because they have not shown respect for democracy.

Adding to weeks of Cuban criticism, President Miguel Díaz-Canel told lawmakers on Monday a “country incapable of accommodating everyone should be disqualified as serving as host.”

Johana Tablada de la Torre, deputy director for US affairs in Cuba’s foreign ministry, hit back against Hannan’s accusations, writing on Twitter that Cuba “has no need to distract attention” or “interfere in the internal politics of other countries.”

Hannan told the virtual conference: “The Cubans are loving this, getting the attention that they get for not attending and … continuing to bang that drum.”

“The more that they can shine the light on us and call us the bad guy, they’re avoiding the fact that the repression that they’ve been actively perpetrating against their people,” she said, citing a crackdown on street protests last July. “They want the press on us not inviting them to the summit or not. … Hypocrisy plays well in the media.”

The Biden administration this week announced a partial rollback of Trump-era restrictions on remittances and travel to the Communist-ruled island. Cuba´s vice foreign minister on Wednesday denounced US policy toward the island as one of continued “hostility” and “economic blockade.”

A vintage car passes by the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba, October 30, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini/File)

Lopez Obrador said last week he would not go to the summit if Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were not invited. His Bolivian counterpart, Luis Arce, followed suit.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is also likely to skip the meeting, sources told Reuters, without specifying his reason. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said on Tuesday he would not attend, a day after the United States criticised the reappointment of an attorney general it has linked to corruption.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said late on Wednesday that his government was “not interested” in attending the summit.

From a Caribbean context, Trinidadian Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley called for an inclusive Summit of the Americas, without excluding any country in the region.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley responding to questions during the March 12, 2021 sitting of Parliament. (Photo: Facebook @TTParliament)

At a press conference, the former Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman maintained that the Americas range from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, and that all the countries included in that geographical area are ‘American’.

With this understanding, Rowley said last Thursday (May 12) that the 9th Summit, slated for June in Los Angeles, California, should not exclude any country.




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