Americas Leaders Wrap Up Summit, U.S. Isolated on Cubaإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Leaders from across the Americas were wrapping a two-day gathering in Colombia Sunday with U.S. President Barack Obama under intense Latin American pressure to let Cuba attend future hemispheric summits.
They met in plenary session to decide whether this would be the last hemispheric summit since several Latin American leaders made it abundantly clear they would not attend in the future if Cuba was kept out.
Saturday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the host of the Summit of the Americas and Washington's closest ally in Latin America, said it would be "unacceptable" to keep Cuba out of the next gathering.
After a new closed-door session, the summit was scheduled to close in early afternoon and Santos was to give a press conference along with the host of the next summit, his Panamanian counterpart Ricardo Martinelli.
"The isolation, the indifference has shown its ineffectiveness. In today's world, there is no justification for this anachronism," Santos said on the summit's opening day.
Cuba has never taken part in a Summit of the Americas, a regular meeting sponsored by the U.S.-based Organization of American States (OAS).
The Colombian's leader's statement was echoed by remarks by his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, who argued that all Latin American states backed Cuba's participation in the summits.
But despite the intense pressure, chances for a deal on the issue appear remote, with the United States backed by Canada refusing to yield.
Obama, who is campaigning for re-election in the November election, cannot afford to give ammunition to his domestic right-wing opponents who reject any concessions to a communist regime seen as violating the democratic and human rights of its people.
Havana's exclusion also prompted Ecuador's Rafael Correa to stay away.
And an alliance of left-leaning Latin American countries known as ALBA announced here that its members would not take part in any future summits of the Americas if Cuba was not included.
In a statement ALBA also demanded an immediate end to Washington's 50-year-old "inhuman economic, trade and financial embargo against Cuba" and urged regional countries "to continue to maintain its united solidarity in favor of Cuba's admission to the summit."
ALBA groups Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, several Central American leaders met here on the sidelines of the summit Saturday to discuss Guatemala's proposal to consider legalizing street drug consumption. But they failed to reach consensus.
Yet for the first time since the launch of the U.S.-led war on drugs in 1971, hemispheric leaders were Sunday considering alternative strategies, including Perez' proposal.
Obama told his peers Saturday that he favored a debate on a new drug war strategy but opposes decriminalization or legalization of drugs.
The leaders were scheduled to sign a final statement focusing on poverty eradication, regional integration, transnational crime and increased access to technology before closing the summit.
But controversial issues such as Cuba, the drug fight and Argentina's call for support to its claim to the British-ruled Falkland islands were likely to be left out.
And this could mean a repeat of what happened at the previous summit in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009 when only the host signed the final statement.
Obama scheduled a bilateral session with Caribbean leaders before attending a working lunch with Santos.
The two leaders were then to give a joint press conference before Obama's departure for home.
Santos was also to have bilateral talks with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
Obama was also to join Santos at a ceremony in Cartagena's historic center to deliver land titles to descendants of African runaway slaves for more than 3350 hectares (8200 acres) of nearby ancestral land that they occupy.
Cartagena was Colombia's most important port for the slave trade during Spanish colonial rule.
Meanwhile Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a new initiative to his country's efforts to address security challenges in Central America.
The scheme will involve police training, border security, strengthening justice and security institutions, promoting human rights, supporting conflict resolution and reconciliation and protecting vulnerable groups such as women and youth from violence.