Canada, Caribbean divided on Cuba
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (Reuters) -- Leaders of Canada and the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM) ended a meeting in Jamaica divided over whether
communist Cuba should take part in the upcoming Summit of the Americas in
Quebec City, Canada.
Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien, speaking at a news conference late
Friday, made it clear that Cuba would not be invited to the summit set for April
Noting that Cuban President Fidel Castro was not invited to the inaugural
of the Americas in Miami in 1994, he said this was because the intention was
that all participating countries should have democratically elected governments.
While acknowledging that some countries wanted Castro at the summit, he
"We operate on a consensus basis and some are opposed so we cannot proceed.
Even if I wished, I cannot."
Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur, the current CARICOM chairman, told
reporters the organization strongly disagreed with Cuba's exclusion.
"The notion of having a hemispheric process that involves economic and
forms of cooperation that presumes that Cuba will indefinitely be excluded from
hemispheric relationships is unreal and unrealistic," Arthur told reporters.
He said that Cuba has normal relationships with 33 of 35 countries in the
Americas and that a process of constructive engagement with Cuba should be
part of the way forward.
Caribbean governments have often earned the ire of the United States in
particular in their defense of Cuba's right to participate in hemispheric and
They provided strong support for Cuba's inclusion in the latest trade agreement
between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)
group of developing nations.
The Sixth Canada-Caribbean Summit in Montego Bay focused in part on the
agenda for the Summit of the Americas, which will take place in Quebec City in
That summit will focus on negotiations towards establishing the Free Trade
of the Americas, the OECD Initiative on Financial Centers, crime, drugs, small
arms and the HIV/AIDS crisis in the hemisphere.
Copyright 2001 Reuters.