Colombia, the host country for this April’s Summit of the Americas, will decide whether Cuba is admitted to the conference, according to the Organization of American States [OAS] Secretary of Legal Affairs.
Colombian President Juan Manuel 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, 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. said that 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In 2009, Cuba’s suspension was revoked, on the proviso that the country comply with democratic principles before being readmitted.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.
Jean Michael Arrighi, secretary of legal affairs for the OAS, told reporters Monday that Colombia, along with other invited countries, will decide whether Cuba attends the sixth summit, due to be held in the Caribbean coastal city of Cartegena April 14 and 15.
Leaders from 34 countries, including U.S. President Barack Obama, are expected to attend the summit to discuss regional issues. But the boycott has threatened to spoil the event for Colombia’s president, who saw it as a way to improve the country’s image after years of violence and internal conflict.
President of the Inter-American Dialogue Michael Shifter was reported as saying, “I don’t think Santos will let this happen. It’s his party and he wants to be a regional leader. It’s hard to do that if you have a divided summit, or a boycott.”