Latin American leaders want Cuba back in OAS

April 19th, 2009 - 10:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Port of Spain, April 19 (EFE) Latin American leaders who gathered here for the Fifth Summit of the Organisation of the Americas (OAS), Sunday favoured the return of Cuba into the grouping and urged the US to end its economic blockade on the island nation.
Cuba was expelled from the 35-member OAS way back in 1962. Although Cuba still remains a member, its government was excluded from participating in the OAS.

Presidents of Argentina, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago at the summit favoured the unconditional return of Cuba into the grouping.

Chile’s Jose Miguel Insulza, current head of the OAS, said the group should include a discussion on scrapping the 1962 resolution (expelling Cuba from the body) in its upcoming June meeting.

“I don’t feel comfortable at this summit. I refuse to call it the Summit of the Americas,” Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said referring to Cuba’s absence in the summit.

Heads of states of 34 countries, including the US, are participating in the Summit April 17-19.

The unanimity among the Latin American leaders on the Cuba issue led US President Barack Obama to announce in his first address at the hemispheric conclave “a new direction” in relations between Washington and Havana.

“Let me be clear; I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking. But I do believe that we can move US-Cuba relations in a new direction,” Obama said.

“I know there is a longer journey that must be travelled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day,” he said, citing his decision to end the restrictions on Cuban Americans’ travel and remittances to the communist-ruled island.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said: “I come with a positive attitude to a new era in this (American) hemisphere.”

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