Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cuban Foreign Minister Speaks on Exclusion From the Summit of the Americas

March 9, 2012


The exclusion of Cuba by the United States government is unacceptable and unjustified
• Press conference held by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, March 8, 2012, "Year 54 of the Revolution"

(Typographical version: Council of State)

Gustavo Machín (Moderator) - Good morning to all those present.

Minister of Foreign Relations Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla will give a statement to the press; I will therefore cede the floor to him.

Bruno Rodríguez - Good morning.

Congratulations to all of the women journalists who are present today. It is a pleasure to be here with you. I apologize for giving you such short notice, but surely you were following the news yesterday and understand that we are getting together as soon as possible, as soon as developments allowed this interchange.

As you know, yesterday we had the pleasure of receiving in our country President Santos of Colombia, accompanied by his Foreign Minister. The President told us, in a very respectful and cordial manner, that consensus within the hemisphere has not been reached in order to invite Cuba to the 6th Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, which will take place next month.

He has explained that Colombia wishes this situation to be discussed during the Cartagena Summit. He expressed his respect for the position of the countries which consider Cuba’s participation in these summits a necessity. He pointed out that this is an issue which has remained unresolved for many years and said that he sincerely hopes this uncomfortable situation is not repeated.

I would like to express our gratitude for the efforts of Colombia, a country for which Cuba always desires the best.

There have been no surprises; it has been "the chronicle of an exclusion foretold."

Completely disrespecting Colombia, Latin America and the Caribbean, U.S. spokespersons have, from day one, decreed Cuba’s exclusion.

Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, a sub-secretary and other State Department representatives expressed their veto even before the announced consultation could take place.

With this disrespect and arrogance, the United States is offending the dignity of Bolívar’s Patria Grande and Our America as identified by Martí.

I forcefully denounce the exclusion of Cuba by the government of the United States as unacceptable and unjustified. It is part and parcel of a policy of economic, political and media blockade which is genocidal, illegal and in violation of the human rights of Cubans, as made clear in that infamous memorandum issued by Mr. Mallory in April, 1960, and intended to cause hunger, desperation and undermine the people’s support of our government.

The blockade is a crime, and an error, which has already lasted for more than 50 years.

Esteemed colleagues,

Cuba never asked to be invited to any of the so-called Summits of the Americas; it has never done so in the past and is not doing so now. We limited ourselves to responding that, if invited on the basis of equality, with full and equal rights, we would act according to our principles and the truth, with all due respect, as we always do.

The position taken by countries within the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) is unanimous and firm in its demand that the blockade of Cuba end, and that the exclusion of Cuba from any hemispheric body, such as this so-called Summit of the Americas, end. The alliance is solid and unanimous in demanding unequivocally that this exclusion must end and that the issue be seriously addressed during the 6th Summit in Cartagena. It is also unanimous in its position publicly announced during the February 15 meeting of its Political Council and at the meeting of ALBA Foreign Ministers, to await the outcome of consultations underway at that time, which we heard about yesterday.

As President Chávez announced in a valiant statement of solidarity yesterday, it is the responsibility of the ALBA Political Council, as charged by the Summit of ALBA Heads of State, foreign ministers will continue analyzing the situation, coordinating their actions and reinitiating consultation within the alliance and with other Latin American and Caribbean governments, without exception.

Cuba’s position is that expressed by President Raúl Castro Ruz February 4, in Caracas, during the Summit of ALBA Presidents. He said there that Cuba would never have demanded it, but supports the proposal made by President Correa, Evo and other Presidents, to take action to end the exclusion of Cuba, a position we consider completely just.

He said, "I want to thank you, President Correa, Evo and others, for these proposals… of vital importance. You are absolutely right. We would never have requested that such a measure be adopted, but are not going to forego supporting this one, which we consider completely just."

These summits, as is known, began in Miami, in 1994. They were the platform for the development of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the United States’ plan to economically annex Latin America.

In 2005, in Mar del Plata, Presidents Chávez and Néstor Kirchner, with the support of others and all of Our America, buried the FTAA.

In April 2009, in Port of Spain, President Obama promised a new policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean. As for Cuba, he expressed his desire to take a new direction in relations between the United States and Cuba. What will President Obama say in this next meeting in Cartagena?

These summits, like the sadly infamous Organization of American States (OAS), only serve to allow the United States to exercise its dominance. The most recent events demonstrate this.

Additionally worth pointing out is that there has been talk of the possibility of a private meeting during the Cartegena Summit of Heads of State, to address the issue behind closed doors.

I must say that this is not in the interest of Cuba. It is not acceptable to Cuba that this issue be discussed without its presence, in a private meeting between the government of the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Latin America no longer accepts this and is constructing a project based on sovereignty and regional integration, which the United States cannot stop, although it will try to do so. The presence of Cuba in Cartagena from a distance will be unmistakable, as it was in 2009.

Martí, referring to the Pan American Conference in Washington which concluded in 1980, precisely during these April days, on April 19, has already written, "… after seeing with judicious eyes the antecedents, causes and factors involved in the meeting, one must say, because it is the truth, that for Hispanic America the time has come to declare its second independence."

If this exclusion serves to deepen the consciousness of Latin American and Caribbean peoples as to the need for firm, concerted action by Our America, to advance with more resolve toward our complete and definitive independence, it is welcome.

During these days, we Cubans will be here, confident and serene; as a symbol we will be commemorating the victory of Girón [Bay of Pigs] which - we don’t know why - the U.S. President’s advisors have decided to make coincide, once again, with the Incomplete Summit of the Americas.

Thank you very much.

Moderator – The Minister has agreed to answer some questions about the issue which he has addressed. I would ask those who have questions to use the microphones to the sides and identify the communications media they represent.

Andrea Rodríguez (AP) – Good morning, Minister.

Bruno Rodríguez - Good morning, Andrea. Congratulations!

Andrea Rodríguez – Thank you.

Sir, there has been talk of consensus and that consensus was not achieved so that Cuba could be invited, but it is true that it also appears that there is no consensus among ALBA countries. That is, do you believe that the case of Cuba, and this special situation which has emerged in Cartagena, has broken down consensus within ALBA, leaving President Correa in an isolated position?

At what point, then, are the ALBA countries in terms of Cartagena? Thank you.

Bruno Rodríguez – I have not spoken about consensus, I have quoted the President of Colombia explaining his position as regards the issue. I have said, however, that ALBA has a solid, unitary position calling for an immediate end to the blockade of Cuba, which is fundamental, and in the demand for an immediate end to the exclusion of Cuba from these entities, called hemispheric, such as the Summit of the Americas, and that ALBA has a firm, unanimous position of concerted action and, as it stated - the February 15 statement by the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is public – that it would reinitiate the coordination of its actions and contacts once the results of that consultation, which was underway, were known.

The position of President Correa is totally supported by all of the ALBA Presidents, by all of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, in demanding an end to this unacceptable exclusion and, most importantly, in demanding that the political, economic, media blockade of Cuba be ended now, immediately and unconditionally. The ALBA Foreign Ministers will continue to develop positions in regards to the way in which these issues are addressed during the 6th Summit in Cartegena.

Rosa Tania Valdés (REUTERS) – Good morning.

Minister, what we would like to know is, at the beginning when all the condemnation by ALBA related to Cuba’s participation began, some countries said that they were even willing to forego attending, in the event that Cuba was excluded, as has finally occurred.

What I would like to know is if Cuba will ask ALBA countries to take a position in relation to this. Will the ALBA countries go to the Summit or not?

Bruno Rodríguez – This issue is not new, nor is it a new position of the ALBA countries. You can find it in the Declaration made by the ALBA Presidents’ Summit which took place in Cumaná, in April of 2009, right before the 5th Summit which took place in Port of Spain. ALBA’s position at that time is exactly the same, it is solid, it is firm; it has been consistent over time.

As President Raúl Castro Ruz said on February 4, Cuba would never have demanded a measure of this nature, but supports it firmly, because it considers President Correa’s forceful demand to put an end to this situation, as just and legitimate

Néstor Pardiño - How can this new phenomenon be interpreted, a group of Latin American countries confronting the United States over the issue of Cuba? What comments can you make in regards to this?

Bruno Rodríguez - Cuba expressed itself back in 2009. Fidel asked - as early as the 1990’s, with all the announcements made with great fanfare from the 1994 Summit in Miami - what purpose these summits might serve. Cuba was already excluded. He said at the time, if these summits provide an opportunity to discuss the real problems of Latin America and the Caribbean, the problems of peace, the problems of development, the problems of debt, the problems of just and equitable relations, the problems of access to markets, the problems of subsidies which destroy Caribbean economies, for example – if the real problems of terrorism were discussed, of drug trafficking, if they were to be discussed with the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean on an equal plane, perhaps these summits, even with Cuba excluded, would have served some purpose. But not if they only served to extend U.S. domination, to expand this interventionist presence, this interference in our states; if they served to extend and deepen this relationship of exploitation of our economies and our resources, resistance was necessary.

Today, years later, the reality is completely clear, everyone knows, no one has any doubt, after having buried the FTAA, about the purpose of this type of summit and the exclusion of Cuba is probably the most notorious symbol. It is more evident that these summits are created in the image and likeness of their owner, which is the government of the United States and that they serve as its instrument to exercise domination in a totally undemocratic manner, disrespecting other countries which are equal, sovereign, and which do not accept being treated like a back yard.

Patrick Hoffman (CNN) – Good morning. How are you?

If Cuba does not want to participate in the summit, why are some ALBA countries, some Presidents, fighting for you to be there?

Bruno Rodríguez - Cuba has said since 1994 that its exclusion from these summits is unjustifiable and unacceptable. Cuba was asked if it would attend, if it were invited. It was asked in 2009 as well. Cuba has always responded that, if invited as an equal with full rights, it would attend the Summit based on its principled foreign policy positions, in accordance with the truth and all due respect.

The ALBA countries are denouncing this arbitrary, unsustainable exclusion, left-over from the Cold War era, inappropriate given the times, unfitting of the relationship which the United States supposedly wants to construct now with Latin America and the Caribbean, different from that of the 1990’s.

Roberto Hernández (Prensa Latina) – Good morning, Minister.

Has a date been set for the next meeting of the ALBA foreign ministers?

Bruno Rodríguez - Not yet. We are in contact, in fact, we were in contact yesterday and we will continue to exchange impressions over the next few days.

Sarah Rainsford (BBC) - Hello. I would like to ask what you consider the likelihood of Cuba being included in the next Summit. What might that depend on, what are the necessary conditions?

Bruno Rodríguez – I believe that we all understand that an eventual invitation to Cuba, as the Colombian President has explained, depends on consensus. We all understand what ‘consensus’ means. Consensus on this issue means Washington’s authorization and this is a question which should be directed to the U.S. government. I don’t know what the U.S. government will do. What it has done, as of just yesterday, is reiterate its old, failed position, which has lasted 50 years, which does not work and someone should think about reconsidering.

Thank you for your presence here this morning.

Thank you very much.

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