Tag Archives: cuba

ALBA Countries Threaten to Boycott Future Hemispheric Summits

The the Summit fo the Americas concluded today, the countries of the Alternativa para las Américas (ALBA) declared that they would not participate in future summits if Cuba was not invited. In a declaration they condemned the ‘unjustifiable and unsustainable exlcusion of Cuba.’ Before the start of the summit, there was some talk of an ALBA boycott, but finally only Ecuador decided to make good its promise and actually refused to attend. The promise that ALBA members will not participate in the future is just a first step; if they really want to have an impact they will have to follow through with actions. The United States is still the dominant power in the hemisphere, and it will take collective action to change its long entrenched attitude toward Cuba.

In other news, the pierogi continues to be excellent.


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El Papa, Cuba, and the First Easter in 50 Years

Havana's Cathedral during mass yesterday
Source: Raquel Pérez (via BBC)

Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to Cuba appears to have had only a minimal impact on the faith of Cubans. For the first time since the 1960s the Cuban state declared that Good Friday would be a national holiday, but Cubans appear to have taken the extra holiday as an opportunity to put their feet up rather than attend Church. In Havana’s Catedral fewer than two hundred people attended the Good Friday mass. As I wrote before, the Catholic Church faces very serious problems not just in Latin America, but all over the world. The Pope’s condemnation of the Cuban communist system would be a lot more valid if the Vatican were making reforms of its own. The most recent example of the Church’s inflexibility came just two days ago when the Pope firmly rejected calls from a group of Austrian priests to reconsider its attitudes toward the celibacy of priests and the question of female priests.



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Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa Will Not Attend the Summit of the Americas

Source: Associated Press

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has announced today in a letter that he will not be participating the the Summit of the Americas, which is due to take place on 14th and 15th April in Colombia, because Cuba has not been invited. Correa commented that, ‘they talk about a lack of concensus, but we all know that it is about the veto of hegemonic powers, which is an intolerable situation in 21st century Latin America.’ Despite many promises and a good amount of posturing over the decades, he is the first head of state to make good on a promise not to attend an international summit in the Americas to which Cuba has not been invited.

The the Organization of American States (OAS) has had an active role in preventing Cuba from attending international summits in the Americas for some time now. The OAS says that it cannot invite Cuba because it does not meet OAS requirements for democratic governance. Those requirements, however, were initiated in 2001 specifically to exclude Cuba from inter-American decision making. Under huge US pressure the OAS expelled Cuba in 1962 for sponsoring military activity in other Latin American nations, and since then the US has consistently blocked proposals for Cuba’s reentry. That in the 21st century, Cuba can still be isolated in the hemisphere is a disgrace that all Latin American governments should be held accountable for.

For the first time a Latin American president has stood up and refused to attend a summit because of the absence of Cuba. Not only is that a reflection of the growing confidence of Latin American countries, but also an indication that US influence in the region is waning. Unfourtunately, Correa’s call  on the other key members of the ALBA grouping to do the same fell on deaf ears. Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua have all confirmed that their presidents will be attending the summit. So much for the Bolivarian dream.

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Castro, the Pope and Cuba: hypocrisy all round

Source: Associated Press

As Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba today, the whole of his visit appeared to be something of a farce. While the Pope’s meeting with Raúl Castro at the airport was all good will and hand shakes, it is not exactly a secret that the two are sworn ideological enemies. The Cuban leadership cannot feel anything other than apprehension and discomfort at having to play host to the Pope, while the anti-Castro line of of the Vatican is practically an open secret; just a few days ago Benedict XVI said that, ‘Cuban communism isn’t working anymore.’

As the Pope tries to win some concessions for Cuban Catholics, and the Castros desperately need the increased credibility that a successful papal visit would bring, both have to pretend that they are participating in a productive bilateral meeting  as they grin and bear it. Both parties should be ashamed of themselves. On one hand, the Castros are trying to enhance the image of their Marxist system with a visit from the world’s most famous religious figure, an irony that they seemed to have ignored. The Vatican, on the other hand, is criticising an outdated political system with very significant flaws, which sounds familiar. I guess it is hypocrisy all round.

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El Papa in Cuba and Mexico

As Pope Benedict XVI makes his second visit to Latin America this week, he does so at a time when Catholicism across the whole region is in steep decline, and evangelical sects are gaining many new supporters. While the Catholic Church is obviously still a very powerful and influential institution across Latin America, it is in danger of losing its influence as the population turns away from it in response to scandal or in search of a more modern  alternative. If the Vatican wants to retain its support in Latin America, it is going to require a little more than a few visits from an unpopular pope.

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