Sunday, April 19, 2009

Summit of the Americas: One big happy family

This weekend's Summit of the Americas, on the theme of "Securing Our Citizens' Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability," was (unsurprisingly) unable to agree on a declaration. As Moisés Naím notes in El País, the Summit is like organizing "a convention of dogs and cats," given the disagreements between hemispheric leaders--so much so that Trinidad and Tobago had to be talked into hosting the event.

That said, President Obama was able to come across as reasonable and conciliatory toward the "left bloc" of Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia (plus the wannabe Honduras), with Hugo Chávez even saying he's ready to send an ambassador back to the U.S. The New York Times says that Bolivian president Evo Morales accused Obama of being behind a reported assassination attempt last week--three men were killed in Santa Cruz in a confrontation with police, and the entire escapade remains rather murky--though the Bolivian press (see La Prensa and La Razón) are reporting that what Morales actually said was that if Obama didn't condemn the attempt, he'd construe it as meaning that Obama might have been behind it. At any rate, Obama chose the correct path on this one, saying that "I am absolutely opposed and condemn any efforts at violent overthrows of democratically elected governments," without addressing the specific situation in Bolivia.

The Summit also marked another step out for Salvadoran president-elect Mauricio Funes, who attended along with current president Tony Saca (La Prensa Gráfica has the obligatory picture) and was part of a group of Central American leaders (those from SICA) that discussed the all-important Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants. Meanwhile, Costa Rica and Colombia apparently want to host the next Summit--maybe things are looking up...

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