The Summit held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, gave evidence of the ever-growing abyss that exists between “Our America”, as Martí called it, and the “turbulent and brutal North that despises us”. Cartagena witnessed a rebellion of Latin America and the Caribbean against the imposition of “one and a half government” which applied the imperial veto against the paragraphs of the Draft Final Declaration of the so-called Summit of the Americas that demanded the ceasing of the blockade and of Cuba’s exclusion from hemispheric events.
Since the celebration of the former Summit in 2009, the illusions about the policy of President Obama vanished; a gap between his speeches and his actions widened. There were no major changes in the policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean. The blockade against Cuba continued and it was even tightened in the financial sector, despite the international condemnation and the overwhelming vote against it at the United Nations General Assembly. The purpose of the blockade is “to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government”, which is now known as “change of regime”.
The ALBA group met on February 4 last in Caracas on the occasion of the celebration of an anniversary of the historical Civic and Military Rebellion of 1992. It adopted one Declaration on the Sovereignty of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, another on the blockade and considered the imposition of Cuba’s exclusion from these events to be unfair and unacceptable. President Correa resolutely stated that if this issue was not solved, Ecuador would not attend the Cartagena Summit. This statement shook the entire region. That courageous stand was the prelude of what happened next.
President Raúl Castro expressed at the ALBA meeting: “I want to thank President Correa, Evo and all of you for your statements…You are absolutely right; this is an issue of utmost importance. We have never asked for a step like that to be made, but that does not mean we will not support this one which we think is only too fair.”
The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, who visited us in a respectful way and received a response from President Raúl Castro Ruz stating that Cuba, if invited, would attend the Summit, as usual, with absolute respect, abiding by its principles and the truth, takes the credit for having introduced directly the issue of the blockade and the exclusion of Cuba.
President Evo Morales, who was the first to question the Summit at the ALBA meeting on February in Caracas, waged a battle in Cartagena and stated as follows: “We are going through a phase of disintegration. It is not possible that one country could veto the presence of Cuba. Therefore, there is no integration; and with the absence of Ecuador, an absence that is only fair to protest the US veto against Cuba, what kind of integration can we talk about?”
On April 13 last, President Chávez exclaimed: “Now, truth to tell, if these two governments, the United States and Canada, refuse to discuss issues that are so profoundly inherent to Latin America and the Caribbean such as the issue of Cuba, the sister nation of Cuba, the fraternal Cuba; or the issue of the Malvinas Islands, what’s the use of holding any more Summits of the Americas? We will have to do away with these Summits”. Before that, he had written: “We likewise call for an end to the shameful and criminal blockade against the sister Republic of Cuba, a blockade that has been cruelly and brutally imposed by the empire for more than 50 years against the heroic people of José Martí.”
At a mass rally, full of youth, in solidarity with Cuba held on April 14 in Managua, Daniel Ortega stated as follows: “I think it is high time for the government of the United States to listen to all Latin American nations, with the most diverse ideologies and political thoughts, ranging from the most conservative to the most revolutionary. But, despite that, they all agree that Cuba must be present in these meetings; otherwise there won’t be any other so-called, or wrongly called, Summit of the Americas”.
The unitary and solid stand adopted by Our America on the blockade, the exclusion of Cuba and the Malvinas Islands issues was really impressive. The firmness and dignity upheld by the President of Argentina in her strong defense of these causes were of the essence.
We felt proud when the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, expressed with serene dignity, in front of Obama, that the Bigger Homeland can only be treated as an equal and reaffirmed the common stand in support of Argentina and Cuba.
The Caribbean leaders gave evidence of the soundness of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the fact that the Caribbean and Latin America are likewise indivisible. Their defense of the Argentinean sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands and their traditional and categorical support to Cuba were transcendental.
The left forces, the popular movements; the trade union, youth and students organizations as well as the NGOs gathered at the Congress of the Peoples in Cartagena expressed an emotional solidarity with Cuba. The Inter-Parliamentary Meeting of the Americas condemned the exclusion of and the blockade against our country.
The United States underestimated the fact that on December 2, 2011, in Caracas, on the occasion of the Bicentennial of the Independence of that country, under the leadership of Chávez, and on the occasion of the fifty fifth anniversary of the Landing of the Granma, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was founded, an event that had been anticipated by the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, on February, 2010, when he wrote: “no other institutional event in our hemisphere in the course of the last century has been so transcendental”.
At that first Summit, when Cuba was elected as President of CELAC for the year 2013, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz stated: “With the decisions that we have adopted here and the joint work that we have carried out during the last three years, we have vindicated more than two centuries of struggles and hopes. Having come this far has required efforts, blood and sacrifice. The colonial metropolis of the past and the imperial powers of the present have opposed this endeavor.”
Obama does not seem to understand either the significance of the Bolivarian victory of April 13, 2002, or the fact that right now it’s been ten years already of the coup d’etat
organized by his predecessor with the support of the OAS and the Spanish government headed by Aznar against President Hugo Chávez, in an attempt to annihilate the Bolivarian Revolution and assassinate its leader. As the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Nicolás Maduro, reminded him of, looking him straight in the eye, in a memorable speech delivered at the Cartagena Summit, the US government remains adamant in its conduct of intervening in the internal affairs of Venezuela and supporting the pro-coup faction whose members have now become electoral candidates.
President Obama should realize that the Cartagena Summit was not an auspicious setting to recommend a democracy for Cuba, much less so when the one that intended to do that was left there in absolute isolation, forced to apply the veto out of lack of ideas and political and moral authority. He devotes himself to demagogy prior to some troublesome elections. He should rather take care of his wars, crises and politicking. We, Cubans, will take care of Cuba.
The United States never wanted to discuss the terrible consequences of neoliberalism for Latin America and the Caribbean; or the situation of immigrants in the United States and Europe, who are separated from their families, cruelly deported or murdered at walls like the one that has been built by the Río Bravo River. It never agreed either to talk about the poor, who account for half of humanity.
The empire and the former colonial metropolis do not listen to the “indignants”, their citizens and minorities who live in poverty in those opulent societies, while investing huge amounts of money to bail out corrupted bankers and speculators. In the superpower, 10 per cent of families control 80 per cent of the wealth. Those resources are enough to solve the problems of the planet.
The new thing about the Cartagena meeting was that many of the governments, with natural differences and different approaches, demanded an alternative model that gives priority to solidarity and complementarity over competition based on selfishness; guarantees a harmonious relationship with nature rather than the plundering of natural resources or frenzied consumption. They called for the protection of cultural diversity as opposed to the imposition of values and living styles that are alien to our peoples. They asked for the consolidation of peace and rejected wars and militarization.
They launched an appeal to recover the human condition in our societies and build a world that promotes respect for the plurality of ideas and models; the democratic participation of society in government affairs, including the consultation about economic and monetary policies; the combat against illiteracy, infant and maternal mortality and curable diseases. They called for greater access to both free and truthful information and potable water. They recognized the existence of social exclusion and the fact that human rights are to be exercised by all and should not be used as a political weapon by the powerful.
This time, the United States government was forced to listen, not to an almost unique voice as had been the case for decades or to a slender minority as it happened until very recently. Now it was the majority of peoples which expressed itself at the Summit to promote this indispensable debate either through their Presidents and Heads of Delegations or through the stand adopted by those who did not attend. The Summit had to be censored because the empire listens with deaf ears.
In Cartagena, the Monroe Doctrine -”America for the Americans”- was laid bare. As if no one could remember about the deception of the Alliance for Progress in 1961 and the Americas Initiative or FTAA in 1994, they have tried to trick us into trusting the “Alliance of Equals”.
As Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz had predicted during an international event held in Cartagena on June 14, 1994, the so-called Summits of the Americas have only benefited the North.
When expressing his opinion about a similar meeting held in Washington 120 years ago, José Martí wrote: “After viewing with judicial eyes the antecedents, motives, and ingredients of the feast, it is essential to say, for it is true, that the time has come for Spanish America to declare its second independence.”
During the meeting itself, ALBA declared both officially and publicly that without a radical change in the nature of these Summits, it will never attend these meetings again. Other continental leaders have also advised so.
As to the OAS -that unburied corpse- there is no need to say anything about it.
The Republic of Argentina has the inalienable right to exercise its sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands as well as over the surrounding maritime areas.
Cuba is mindful of the fact that the Bigger Homeland will not be complete until the brother people of Puerto Rico is able to exercise its inalienable right to self-determination and until Puerto Rico, that Latin American and Caribbean nation, submitted to the colonial status imposed by the United States, achieves its full independence.
With a solid consensus on regional sovereignty and the defense of our culture within our rich diversity, with almost 600 million inhabitants and abundant natural resources, Our America has now the chance to solve the grave problems of extreme inequality in the distribution of wealth and could contribute, with its already obvious strength, to the “equilibrium of the world”, the defense of peace and the preservation of the human species.
To that end, and in the face of the attempts to divide us and derail us, which will continue to appear over and over again, Our America needs to stay together.
No one in the North should ever forget that 51 years ago the Cuban people were already defending, at these same hours, a Socialist Revolution in the bloodstained sands of Playa Girón and that, ever since then, “all the peoples of the Americas were a little bit freer.”
Havana, April 18, 2012.