Castro chides summit secrecy, but likes Obama’s sleep habits

April 21st, 2009 - 1:43 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Havana, April 21 (DPA) Cuban leader Fidel Castro Monday complained that the weekend Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago was held in “secret”.
But at the same time, amid a dawning - though as yet far from complete - thaw in US-Cuban relations, Castro had some praise for US President Barack Obama.

“His predecessor (George W. Bush) went to sleep early and slept many hours. It seems that Obama works a lot and sleeps little,” he quipped in an article posted on the website Cubadebate.

Castro was unhappy that so much of the weekend summit that ended Sunday was held behind closed doors.

“They made us all hopeful that the meeting would not be secret, but the owners of the show deprived us of such an interesting intellectual exercise,” he said in the article.

“We will know the essence, but not the tone of voice, nor the eyes, nor the faces that reflect people’s ideas, ethics and character to such a great extent. A secret summit is worse than a silent film,” he complained.

Cuba was the only one of 35 countries in the Americas without representation in Trinidad and Tobago.

The communist island was suspended from the Organisation of American States (OAS) in 1962, although OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza said in Port of Spain that he will seek Cuba’s return for the next summit in three years’ time.

The ailing former Cuban president reminded Obama that events that were put in place before he was born, like the US embargo on Cuba, continue to be in place and to cause harm.

“Any injustice, any crime, in any time period has no excuse whatsoever to persist. The cruel blockade against the Cuban people claims lives, claims suffering,” Castro said.

Castro further praised the cultural shows that accompanied the summit, which he defined as “a true extravaganza of culture and at the same time of luxury”.

“I did some thinking. I calculated how much all that would cost and I suddenly realised that no other country in the Caribbean could afford the luxury of putting on a similar show, that the seat of the summit is immensely rich, a sort of US surrounded by small poor countries.”

“Could Haitians with their extremely rich culture, or Jamaica, Grenada, Dominica, Guyana, Belize or any other, host such a luxurious summit?” he wondered.

The Summit of the Americas appeared as a likely turning point on ties between the US and Cuba. While no concrete steps were taken to end the US embargo on the communist island - as Latin American nations have been demanding with ever-louder voice - the event did see a dramatic change in discourse as the US and Cuba exchanged signs of good will.

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