Bloomberg News

Summit Ends With Obama at Odds With Latin America Over Cuba

April 15, 2012

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, from left, Honduras' President Porfirio Lobo, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, U.S. President Barack Obama and Panama's President Ricardo Martinelli at the Summit of the Americas' family photo session, in Cartagena on April 15, 2012. Photographer: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, from left, Honduras' President Porfirio Lobo, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, U.S. President Barack Obama and Panama's President Ricardo Martinelli at the Summit of the Americas' family photo session, in Cartagena on April 15, 2012. Photographer: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama and leaders from Latin America failed to issue a statement at the end of a summit in Colombia over the U.S.’s refusal to invite Cuba to the next such regional gathering, a U.S. official said.

“We have been clear that we look forward to a democratic Cuba’s participation in the Summit process,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporters in Cartagena, where the Summit of Americas took place. “Sadly that day hasn’t come.”

Host Juan Manuel Santos, who briefed reporters at the end of talks by 31 heads of state, said he hoped Cuba would attend the next summit that Panama has “offered” to host in 2015.

That sentiment is shared by leaders throughout Latin America who’ve been lobbying to overturn a ban that has kept Cuba from participating in every summit since the first one was held in Miami in 1994. The U.S. and Canada have pushed back, arguing that the region’s sole dictatorship needs to implement democratic reforms before it can be welcomed.

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador decided to boycott the summit in solidarity with Cuba while Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, an ally of the communist island, also skipped the gathering at the last minute. More American-friendly governments like Brazil and Colombia have said this should be the last Summit of the Americas without Cuba.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Cartagena at kandersen7@bloomberg.net; Matthew Bristow in Cartagena at mbristow5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net


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