Monday, January 27, 2014
Cuba's CELAC Summit: Masking the Truth of a Failed Diplomacy
By Jerry Brewer
Havana, the capital of the Castro brother's
Cuba, will play host to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit this January 28-30. The heads
of state and government representatives from 32 Latin American and Caribbean nations are scheduled to attend.
Conversely, Cubans who will apparently not be allowed anywhere near the meetings are crying
foul, even with strained abilities to communicate to an outside free world. After all, CELAC was created to "deepen Latin
Evidently Cuba is disallowing any integration
by dissidents, who seek to have a free voice and be heard on their own island, with the leaders of other Latin American nations.
Furthermore, it has been claimed by many that some of those who will attend have expressed no intentions to attend any peaceful
events organized by the opposition.
Is this snubbing of dissidents and
removal from the summit areas indicative solely of the Castro family dictatorship?
CELAC, it has been said, was "created to reduce the once overwhelming influence of the United States on the politics and
economics of Latin America." CELAC was seen as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS), a regional body organized for the most part by Washington in 1948 as a perceived
countermeasure to suspected Soviet influence in the region.
It is clear
that key leftist dictator-like presidents led the charge for CELAC. In February 2010, at the 23rd Rio Group summit in Mexico, Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez said, "Now here,
in Mexico, a document, a commitment, the creation of a body of Latin America and the Caribbean, without the USA, without Canada
(...). Now we can say from Latin America, from Mexico, (that) we have revived the dream and project of Bolivar.
A protégé of Chavez,
President Evo Morales of Bolivia, said in an interview in 2010, "A union of Latin American countries is the weapon against
imperialism. It is necessary to create a regional body that excludes the United States and Canada.... Where there are
U.S. military bases that do not respect democracy, where there is a political empire with blackmailers, with its constraints,
there is no development for that country, and especially there is no social peace and, therefore, it is the best time for
prime ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean to gestate this great new organization without the United States to free
our peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean."
The Cuban government
must not have received the memo version indicated by Morales to "free our peoples" in Latin America.
As well, the Cuban government has warned that it will not allow the opposition to meet during
the CELAC summit.
Reports abound that indicate the 32 Latin American and
Caribbean heads of state and government representatives scheduled to attend the summit in Havana will skip the "international
diplomatic practice of meeting with opposition leaders or independent civil society groups."
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who wants to be seen as part of a new generation of leaders of his once authoritarian Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), reportedly has no plans to meet with any member of the peaceful opposition
while in Cuba. Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade commented, "President Peña Nieto will participate in
Cuba in an agenda related to the CELAC summit. He has accepted an official visit, and that's the framework in which it
Dissidents, such as Guillermo Fariñas, who is one of the Cuban opposition leaders planning to attend a counter-summit in
Havana, was quoted recently as saying, "Cuba's secret police have already paid a visit to several dissidents, including
blogger Yoanni Sanchez, warning them not to hold the opposition summit."
Fariña's statements show the frustrations of Castro regime opponents, in light of what are perceived to
be gestures of goodwill by attendees of the summit towards their hosts, which may posture the Cuban government favorably and
perhaps strengthen it.
Without the opposition in Cuba being welcomed,
or even acknowledged, by the attending leaders, and with some dissenters already removed, representatives of free nations
in attendance should question at the very least why the Cuban people have not had a chance to vote freely in elections for
more than 50 years.
President Raul Castro assumed the presidency of CELAC
in Santiago, Chile on January 28, 2013. This, obviously, was seen by many as clearly at odds with the organization's stated
aims - the promotion of democracy, free trade and free speech. At that event, Castro described what he called "a common
vision for the Latin American and Caribbean homeland." Perhaps this common vision he described falsely labels Cuban dissidents
as counterrevolutionaries who are not welcome in the Summit's so-called open process.
Regardless of diplomatic dialogue and visions of a unified Latin America, the Castro brothers' repressive dictatorship
has been hard at work preparing for the arrival of those attending the Summit. And, in what appears to be the regime's
growing desire to silence dissidents, Jose Daniel Ferrer and Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, who are described as prominent human
rights activists and leaders of the opposition movement in Cuba, were arrested last Friday by Cuban State Security officials.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation
firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org.