article from April 17, 2012
By Jamie Douglas
Cartagena, Colombia, the "Pearl of the Caribbean," had, in spite of minor rumblings about the Falkland Islands and the highly visible absence of Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela and Nicaragua, the promise to bring together all the he heads of state of the hemisphere.
Lacking were Hugo Chávez who, it must be assumed, is spending his last days as a guest of another no-show, this one a no-show by denial, Raúl Castro, the younger (almost 81-year-old) brother of Comandante Fidel, as well the voluntarily missing Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, and the newly re-reelected president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega.
With Correa, it is a double-edged sword. On one hand, he was grandstanding for the inclusion of Cuba, while on the other, he was fearful of leaving the country and losing power.
While the motto of the summit held great promise: “Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity,” the outcome was rather embarrassing to the USA, what with the prostitute scandal (What do you mean I have to pay you? You should pay me, I am American!), which overshadowed everything else. It was this very attitude that was to be avoided. US President Barack Obama did his best to make good on some of his early promises to get closer with his southern neighbors, listening to hours of diatribes and well-meaning speeches from the leaders of the Americas.
The exclusion of Cuba – sorry, that should be the Marxist Communist Republic of Cuber, once the promising 49th state to the US of A – took up such a huge amount of time that it reminded me of the annual square dance that used to take place at the United Nations, where the whole world wanted a nation of a billion Chinese souls to become members of the world body while the US vetoed it, insisting that the shoe and bicycle factory named Taiwan represented the whole of China. And so it goes today with US-Cuba relations.
The summit unfortunately lasted for only two days, and most of that time was taken up with bickering about Cuba. Is the United States so nearsighted that it does not see what a potential giant lies dormant at their doorstep? And I don’t mean a doormat! I can see why Canada supports the embargo. Their citizens have had the island to share only with European and South American citizens. It is so nice not to have that whale of a human on the beach hollering at the waitress, ¡Otro!
As it stands now, the delegates could have stayed home and bought some prostitutes wholesale for their details. That would have saved a whole lot of money and frustration for the many non-Canadian or US delegates.
For such a huge hemispherical organization to come together only every three years is a bit embarrassing, as well. I would suspect that yearly meetings might be more in order. However, the ALBA nations – Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and many of the smaller Caribbean nations, have already stated firmly that they would not attend another summit without Cuba’s presence. And of course, the nearsightedness about Cuba is also causing the United States to miss out on the fact that China is taking over as the major trading partner throughout Latin America. Ouch.
So the other big drama, besides the sex scandal, was Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who singlehandedly is trying to turn back the clock of progress in her country, storming out of the summit before it was over, calling it a waste of her time. She went to Cartagena all full of expectations that she would be able to bring her favorite non-issue to the table, the Falkland Islands. But no such thing happened. All the nations, big and small, failed to even mention her menstrual problem, so she came home, called for an emergency meeting with the press and her cabinet, and proudly announced that the federal government would steal 51% of the Spanish oil exploration firm YPF-Repsol, giving the remaining 49% to the provinces. Way to go Cristina! It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as state larceny has been institutionalized in Argentina for over 200 years, now. The faces change, but the tactic and practices remain the same.
San Rafael, Mendoza
Where my U.S. Dollar gets stronger every day
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