Colombia’s Santos meets Castro and Chavez in Cuba

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos arrived in Cuba Wednesday to discuss Cuba’s participation in next month’s Summit of the Americas (SOA).

Santos met Cuba’s president Raul Castro Wedesday morning and will also meet with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Discussions will center on Cuba’s participation in the SOA, as well as bilateral trade agreements between Colombia and Venezuela.

The SOA is a series of international meetings bringing together the leaders of countries in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean; however no representative from Cuba has yet participated.

This year’s summit will take place in Colombia, and as the host country’s leader Santos has found himself in the middle of a political tug-of-war between the United States and the the left-leaning bloc of ALBA countries (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas), who have insisted Cuba be admitted.

ALBA’s political council — made up of Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, the Commonwealth of Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines — has threatened to boycott the summit if Cuba is not invited.

The U.S. has said Cuba should not be included because it is not a democracy.

Only OAS members are invited to the summit, and Cuba was suspended from the organization in 1962 because of its socialist political system.

In 2009, Cuba’s suspension was revoked, on the proviso that the country comply with democratic principles before being readmitted. According to the BBC, Cuba’s foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said that Cuba is willing to attend the summit, but will not rejoin the OAS.

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