"Doors open" for Cuban dissidents to possibly attend summit in Panama
BY JOSÉ MELÉNDEZ EL NUEVO HERALD
01/30/2015 9:48 PM 01/30/2015 9:48 PM
Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela endorsed the reestablishment of
relations between the United States and Cuba and said the doors "are
open" for Cuban dissidents to potentially attend a key forum during the
upcoming Summit of the Americas.
Both President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro are
scheduled to attend the April event in Panama.
In an interview with el Nuevo Herald, Varela avoided confirming whether
the Cuban dissidents — who have been repeatedly classified by the Cuban
government as mercenaries at the service of "the empire" of the U.S. —
would be invited by the Panamanian government to the civic society forum.
Varela said Ruben Castillo, former president of Apede (the Panamanian
Association of Executives), would be the person in charge of the forum.
But asked whether that debate would include the dissidents, he signaled
it was a possibility that would be debated. "When a country seeks unity,
if things are done the right way, when a country seeks unity and
dialogue, well, then that's the path to follow,'' he said. "So, the
doors are open."
Varela, who spoke at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean
States summit this week in Costa Rica, said that the joint announcement
that Cuba and the U.S. had initiated a process to normalize relations
after 46 years of hostility "consolidates peace in the continent and
restores social peace within the different countries."
For the first time since the founding of the Summit of the Americas, a
Cuban government head has been invited to attend. Panama invited Castro,
who accepted the invitation. That means that in an act unprecedented
since the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959, the presidents of
Cuba and the U.S. will sit at the same table of an Inter-American
summit. The Organization of American States (OAS), from which Cuba was
expelled in 1962, is sponsoring the summit.
However, Cuba has not shown any signs of wanting to be reincorporated
fully into the inter-American system.
During the first meeting among delegates of both nations held last week
in Havana, Cuban negotiator Josefina Vidal held a press conference in
which she stated: "The Cuban government doesn't consider dissidents to
be 'representative of civil society in Cuba.'"
In his CELAC speech on Wednesday, Castro also avoided addressing whether
he thinks the dissidents should attend the Summit of the Americas but he
voiced a range of questions about that possibility.
Castro largely used his time at the podium to chastise the U.S. for its
immigration policies and the recent string of protests against police
brutality held across the country. The Cuban leader also said he
supports "the popular movements and the non-gubernatorial organizations
that advocate nuclear dismantling, that are environmentalists, against
neo-liberalism, the Occupy Wall Street of this region."
Source: "Doors open" for Cuban dissidents to possibly attend summit in
Panama | The Miami Herald The Miami Herald -