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Americas: Eye on the Summit

As the much-anticipated opening of the Fifth Summit of the Americas – which will see 34 Western Hemisphere leaders coming together to discuss issues related to human prosperity, environmental sustainability and energy security, not to mention the global financial crisis – fast approaches, regional bloggers continue to closely monitor developments.

From the host country, Trinidad and Tobago News Blog continues to post daily roundup links of mainstream media stories on the Summit, along with a growing photo gallery of official events. Club Soda and Salt, a “Barbados-born Trinidad-bred Brooklynite”, is concerned about a report in The New York Times, which suggests “that irrational drug policy and illegal guns are two of America's biggest exports, and together, they produce disastrous results in Latin America and the Caribbean.” The blogger says:

I wonder if anyone will ask Obama about America's destructive drug policy at the Summit, rather than focusing everything on Cuba? Don't get me wrong, I think US Cuba policy is terrible, but I also think the impact on say, Trinidad, of lifting the embargo will be limited (if not slightly negative, since Cuba will become competition for outsourcing and tourists). To be honest, the talk about Cuba strikes me as a lot of grandstanding — it's a very easy way to look like you are “standing up” to the powerful Americans.

In any case, a rational conversation about drug policy in our hemisphere would be nice. I'm not going to hold my breath.

Cuba, however, continues to be top of mind for some bloggers. Alfredo Prieto, writing for Havana Times, says:

Even if the subject of Cuba is not reflected in the Final Declaration -because of that being considered OAS territory-, the issue will fall like a Juggernaut onto the warm beaches of the Trinidad and Tobago conference site.

The acceptance of the socialist island is supported by the wave of elected left leaning governments in the region further backed by unprecedented developments, such as the recent pro-Cuba activist stance taken by Brazil.

But obviously the Cuban question cannot be viewed as stemming from smugness in itself, but as a part of the US’s political problem toward Latin America, one in need of structural change…we are waiting, with a good bit of impatience, for what will come out in the group photo of this Summit of All (Minus One).

Guyanese blogger Imran Khan thinks that Trinidad and Tobago's hosting of the Summit is “public relations and advertising that country could not pay for” – assuming, of course, that all goes well – although things seem to have got off to a rocky start. Khan continues:

I fear though that this Fifth Summit of the Americas will be nothing more than a charade. It is shaping up to be nothing more than the Meet Barack Obama Parade. Leaders and their respective delegations are so hyped about attending that it is painfully obvious that they seem more keen on getting a photo op with the global superstar that is Obama.

They are attending, it would appear not for the purposes which one attends a summit of this nature…members of the respective delegations seem to be treating it more like a concert.

The best (and worst thing) which could happen to the Fifth Summit of the Americas is for Barack Obama to cancel his attendance.

  • Georgia Popplewell

    Agree with Club Soda and Salt that a rational discussion about drug policy would be a welcome addition to the Summit agenda, along with a rational discussion of the issue of criminal deportees. Those are two areas where a change in US policy could have a dramatic impact in both the Caribbean and Latin America.

  • FDE

    Isn’t it weird that Obama is restricting travel to Cuba to Cuban related Cuban Americans and not allowing all American Americans to travel. It’s like a reverse boat lift. It shows allot about Obama’s foreign aid.

    Cuba is considered a regional leader because they won’t deal with the US and the OAS, so skipping it can only make them stronger in the region. Of course a deal to end land suits with Obama would be too good to pass up, just before the OAS meeting.

    • locke adam

      who cares about going to Cuba anyway? I believe this is a good idea.

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