Summit of the Americas: All Eyes on Cuba

Story Transcript

SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Glen Ford report on the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

The Summit of the Americas are coming up on the 10th and 11th of April, where the leaders of the Americas, including North America, Central America, and the Caribbean and South America will come together. The summit is to foster discussion on a variety of issues affecting the Western Hemisphere.

To discuss the summit with me is Glen Ford. Glen is the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of the U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion, and executive editor of the Black Agenda Report. Thank you for joining me, Glen.

GLEN FORD, EXEC. EDITOR, BLACKAGENDAREPORT.COM: Thank you.

PERIES: So Glen, what do you anticipate will be taking place at the Summit of the Americas this weekend?

FORD: Well, lots happens when you get all those presidents together. But the wildcard, the card we know that is going to be played, is that Cuba will be present, and that will be the first time since the United States pressured the OAS, the Organization of American States, to expel Cuba that Cuba has been involved at that kind of summit level.

Remember, the Summit of the Americas invitation is sent out by the head of the Organization of American states, and that’s the president of Panama, at the moment. That president is the one who invited Raúl Castro to be there.

Back in the last Summit of the Americas, and that was in 2012, the Latin American nations made it very clear that there could not be another Summit of the Americas unless Cuba was there, and the Latin American nations had already created an alternative to the OAS. It’s called CLAC, it’s the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. That includes all the countries in the Western Hemisphere except the United States and Canada.

So the United States, instead of freezing out, effectively, Cuba from the hemispheric conversation, was rapidly being frozen itself out of the conversation. And many observers speculate that the reason that President Obama decided to relax relations with Cuba is so that there would not be a big blowout, a big embarrassment for the United States at this year’s Summit of the Americas.

The U.S. corporate media, as usual, they are doing their funny bit. They are all speculating about whether President Obama is going to shake the hand of Raúl Castro in Panama City. U.S. officials say that there will be some interaction between the two presidents, and of course there will be, what else do presidents do at summits but interact? But it kind of reminds me of two summits ago, back in 2009, when the U.S. media thought it was very, quite scandalous, that President Obama was forced to shake the hand of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

And it’s, I believe, Venezuela who’s going to cause the great embarrassment that the United States wanted to avoid at the summit this year. Because even as President Obama was relaxing relations with Cuba, he was ramping up sanctions against Venezuela and calling Venezuela a threat to the national security of the United States. And immediately, CLAC, that’s the organization that comprises all the countries in the Western Hemisphere except the U.S. and Canada, CLAC denounced the United States and its sanctions, and demanded that they be lifted.

Another organization composed of the, all the nations of South America, UNASUR, did the same, denouncing the sanctions. And President Maduro has been busy the last couple of weeks trying to get millions of Venezuelans to sign a petition against Obama.

So if Obama does get into close proximity with President Maduro in Panama, and holds out his hand, President Maduro may just slap that petition on him and say, Mr. Obama, you’ve been served.

PERIES: Now, Glen, one of the anticipated issues is that, like they did at the last Summit of the Americas and demanded that Cuba be at the table, one of the demands they could make this time around is that the sanctions against Venezuela be dropped if they want to meet again. Your thoughts on that.

FORD: I think it’s inevitable that there’s going to be a strong demand that the summit call for immediate dropping of sanctions. After all, CLAC, representing all the countries except the United States and Canada, already has done that.

And remember, these countries include U.S. allies like Colombia. And even Honduras, a regime that was basically put in place by the United States. So even U.S. puppets not only welcome Cuba as a comrade nation, but they also denounce the sanctions. And it, I cannot see how it would be politically possible for them to spend two days together and not come out with a document that is strongly disapproving of the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela.

PERIES: Glen Ford, thank you so much for joining us again.

FORD: Thank you.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.

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