HAVANA TIMES — The United States has had to yield to pressures from Latin America and accept Cuba’s participation at the next Summit of the Americas, to be held on April 10, 2015. President Barack Obama had no choice: had he maintained the veto, it would have meant the end of these presidential gatherings.
Washington applied as much pressure as it could, but several important countries in the region warned the US they would not attend the meeting if Cuba was excluded. A basic analysis of the situation in the region would have spared the US the need to take back its decision.
Four Latin American countries (Brazil, Uruguay, Nicaragua and El Salvador) are currently governed by former members of left-wing guerrillas, the same groups the United States labeled “terrorists” and combatted, providing armies with weapons and training in counterinsurgency methods.
At the time, Havana had become the regional rearguard of these groups, the field hospital where they sent their wounded and, on occasion, the training camp where combatants were trained in guerrilla tactics.
Likewise, the president of Chile is none other than the socialist Michelle Bachelet, whose father was detained and died in prison following the coup staged by General Pinochet, who overthrew the constitutional President Salvador Allende with the support of Washington on 9/11/1973.
The President of Bolivia is that young, coca leaf farmer whom the United States once considered a drug trafficker. At the beginning of his political career, Evo Morales, the first Latin American aboriginal to govern a country, only had the support of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.
Cuba’s ties to Caracas are well-known and the political alliance between these two countries is the strongest in the region, for oil is as important to Havana as Cuba’s medical doctors are to Venezuela’s social missions.
Cuba’s health personnel continue to spread through the region. More than 11 thousand Cuban doctors are already working in remote areas of Brazil, poor neighborhoods, jungle areas and parts of the countryside where no local physician is willing to practice.
Cuba’s medical missions in Brazil are so important that, in a few years’ time, they could well pay off Havana’s debt to Brasilia for the construction of the Mariel port, a facility that will allow Cuba to receive large vessels and create a special development and trade zone.
As though this weren’t enough, relations between Washington and Brazil are very tense following the recent revelation that US intelligence services were spying on President Dilma’s communications.
An additional 1,000 Cuban medical doctors are currently working in Ecuador, whose president, Rafael Correa, has left-leaning sympathies that make him identify with Havana. Cuba also enjoys the unwavering support of Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez.
The United States is having a tough time even with its regional allies. Mexico is building closer ties with the island’s government, cancelling the better part of its debt and offering it credits to strengthen bilateral trade, after years of stagnation.
Colombia, Washington’s other great ally, is immersed in peace negotiations with the country’s main guerrilla group. Bogota has a debt with Cuba, one of the countries that has facilitated exchanges between the two parties and whose territory is used for the meetings between the insurgents and the government.
Washington’s policies towards Havana are so out of touch with the times that only two countries around the world support it. It has no sympathizers in the hemisphere. In fact, all countries save the United States maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Even former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton suggested that Obama normalize the situation. Had he listened, he may have spared himself the embarrassment of yielding to pressures from a group of countries the United States once considered its “backyard.”
(*) Visit the blog of Fernando Ravsberg.