The April 14-15 event, held in the Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena and attended by 32 of the region’s leaders, closed without a joint declaration, prompting some observers to declare the event inconclusive.
But Santos rejected this assertion, saying, “we had two options: one was to focus solely on writing easy, soft statements, as so often has happened in the past. The second was to speak frankly, put the issues on the table, the issues that unite and divide us. We chose the second option.”
Among the most divisive issues was that of drug policy, a subject on which the United States and Canada struck isolated voices in their flat rejection of decriminalization or legalization, for which an upswell of support has developed across the region.
Cuba was also a hot topic, after it was not invited to the event under pressure from the U.S., prompting Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa to turn down his invitation in protest.
Santos had opened the Summit by criticizing the Organization of American States’ embargo against the island nation and declaring a 7th summit without Cuba “unacceptable,” amid widespread support from Central and South American nations.