The Biden administration has excluded Cuba from preparations leading to the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles and would not invite representatives from the island to the event, Cuba’s foreign minister said Monday.
“The United States government is misleading public opinion and the governments of the hemisphere by saying that it has not decided on the invitations,” Bruno Rodriguez said during a press conference during which he urged the secretary of State Antony Blinken to reveal whether Cuba would be invited to the event.
“I must denounce that the United States government has decided to exclude the Republic of Cuba from the preparations for the IX Summit of the Americas and that it is currently exerting extreme pressure on many governments in the region who privately and respectfully oppose this excluded,” he said. mentioned.
He said the summit host country “has no right to impose exclusions”.
A National Security Council spokesman said “no invitation has been issued by the White House at this time.”
Earlier this year, a senior administration official hinted that Cuba, Nicaragua and representatives of the Nicolás Maduro regime in Venezuela would not be invited to the largest regional gathering of hemisphere leaders to be held in June.
“I think the operating assumption is that we look forward to welcoming the democratically elected leaders of the Organization of American States to the summit,” the official said.
Cuba is not an active member of the OAS but has been invited to participate in the last two summits in Panama and Peru.
Venezuela’s seat in the continental organization is held by a representative of the opposition government led by Juan Guaidó, which the United States and other members recognize as the South American country’s legitimate authority.
On Sunday, the Nicaraguan government closed the OAS office in the country, and Foreign Minister Denis Moncada declared that Nicaragua was no longer part of the “diabolical” organization. Yet the OAS responded that the withdrawal would not take effect until next year.
Rodriguez, Cuba’s foreign minister, said an agreement for the OAS to “certify all elections” in the hemisphere was among the proposals discussed in relation to the summit. The White House National Security Council and the US State Department did not immediately respond to an email requesting more details about the alleged proposal.
Rodriguez also asked if Cuban civil society representatives would be invited and granted visas to attend a side event to the summit. Representatives of government-sponsored organizations in Cuba interrupted a session of the civil society event at the 2018 summit in Lima, Peru, chanting “Down with the worms”, because members of the Cuban opposition were present. The government-backed civil society delegation also staged several “acts of repudiation” against dissidents attending the 2015 summit in Panama.
The Cuban minister also denounced a regional agreement on migration that US and Panamanian officials say should be adopted at the summit, calling it “racist” and “negotiated behind closed doors”.
The minister deplored what he called “double standards” in US migration policies toward Cuba. He said a meeting last week to discuss the subject was “positive” but questioned why the administration has not fully resumed consular services in Havana, forcing Cubans who wish to emigrate to Guyana instead to get their visas.
Consular services had been suspended since 2017, following the Havana syndrome case. The US Embassy in Havana said it would begin issuing immigrant visas in May on a “very limited” basis.
Representatives from the two countries met in Washington last week to discuss migration for the first time since 2018, when more than 78,000 Cubans arrived at the border with Mexico in the past six months.
Rodriguez said the two governments had pledged at the meeting to abide by migration agreements signed in the 1990s under which the United States would issue 20,000 immigrant visas a year to Cuban nationals. But he asked at the press conference when US authorities would start issuing visas, suggesting no fixed date had been agreed.
Also on Friday, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Emily Mendrala did not respond to questions from reporters about the concrete results of the meeting. The State Department called it an example of “constructive discussion” with Cuba.
At Monday’s conference, Rodriguez repeated the Cuban government’s claims that the US embargo was the “root cause” of the island’s economic woes, ultimately leading to the current migration crisis. He said “cynical” US policies were encouraging “illegal migration”, his tone contrasting with that of Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, the Cuban diplomat who led the delegation attending the talks in DC last week.
Fernandez de Cossio, deputy foreign minister, told The Associated Press that the meeting could be a sign of improving relations under Joe Biden.
“They seem engaged. They have ratified that they are committed to the agreements in place,” said Fernandez de Cossio. “So we have no reason to be suspicious of what they say, but time will tell.”
This story was originally published April 25, 2022 2:13 p.m.