Cuba accuses US of trying to exclude it from regional summit

Cuban foreign minister says Washington is pressuring governments to block Havana from the Summit of the Americas in June.

Bruno Rodriguez
Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez says 'there is no justification for excluding Cuba' or any other nation from the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles [Jorge Luis Banos/Pool via Reuters]

Cuba’s foreign minister has accused the United States of seeking to exclude the country from an upcoming regional summit, just days after the two nations held their first high-level talks in four years.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Bruno Rodriguez said the US was pressuring regional governments to block Cuba from participating in the Ninth Summit of the Americas in June in Los Angeles, California.

“We have learned from various sources that the United States government has been carrying out intense efforts and exerting pressure on countries in the region to try to exclude Cuba from the IX Summit of the Americas,” Rodriguez wrote.

“There is no justification for excluding Cuba or any other country from this event that we have attended the last two editions,” he said.

He said US officials were already leaving Cuba out of pre-summit conversations on such issues as a regional health strategy and migration, both of vital interest to the island’s leaders.

A US Department of State spokesperson told the Reuters news agency that “no invitations [to the summit] have been issued from the White House at this time”.

The US, at odds with Cuba since the early days of Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, further ratcheted up sanctions against the country under former President Donald Trump, cutting off most travel and remittances between the US and the island.

Relations have remained tense under President Joe Biden, whose administration has criticised alleged human rights violations against Cubans who joined rare public protests against their government last July.

Cuba participated in both the 2015 and 2018 Summit of the Americas, after allying governments pressured for the country’s inclusion, but had not previously attended the gathering.

The summits often showcase discussions and agreements among member nations around democracy and human rights.

In a televised address to reporters in Havana on Monday, Rodriguez noted the mixed messages emanating from the Biden administration after last week’s talks on migration between high-level Cuba and US officials in Washington.

Cuba’s foreign ministry says US policies and sanctions create conditions that incentivise emigration [Reuters]

“It is paradoxical because … we have just had official migratory conversations, which were undoubtedly a positive sign,” he said.

The talks were held as the US is eager to rein in a growing number of Cubans trying to enter the country, sometimes without documentation, as an ongoing economic crisis on the island has pushed many to leave.

But the discussions did not yield fresh agreements to deal with the situation.

Rodriguez on Monday reiterated Cuba’s concerns that the US is seeking to foment unrest in the country by tightening Cold War-era sanctions and creating economic hardship while at the same closing doors to Cubans seeking to migrate.

“This incoherent, contradictory policy of tightening the blockade and wanting to restrict migration, pretending to discuss these issues in the hemisphere and excluding Cuba, says a lot,” Rodriguez said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies