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4/9/15

The American Continent: The Americas summit could be historic - by Miodrag Soric

The 7th Summit of the Americas is different from its predecessors. A delegation from Cuba is
participating for the first time – a sign of the thaw between Cuba and the United States.

"Cuba today is no longer what it was during the Cold War – the long arm of the USSR. Consequently, much that was true in the past is no longer true today," said Carl E. Meacham from the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies in an interview with DW.

US President Barack Obama knows that today's Cuba receives hardly any aid from Moscow. Instead, Havana is dependent on oil shipments from Venezuela, a country left economically weak by bad administration and the low price of oil.

The thawing of political relations with Havana is not just down to President Obama, who sees it as part of his foreign policy legacy. "There's a consensus in the foreign policy establishment that this is a way to get rid of the Cuban government more quickly," says Mark Weisbrot of the left-wing Center for Economic and Policy Research. "Whether that will actually work in the long run is a whole other story."

More than a month before the summit, the US imposed sanctions on members of the Venezuelan government for gross human rights abuses. Since then, the country's president, Nicolas Maduro, has constantly whipped up emotions over so-called "American aggression." By doing so, he is trying to divert attention away from Venezuela's disastrous economic situation.

Other states such as Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia have shown solidarity with Maduro. At the current summit the US will be watching closely to see which other states decide to follow their example.
Carl E. Meacham from the Center for Strategic and International Studies defends Obama's decision. "The sanctions were imposed on seven important members of the government because of human rights abuses that took place during the February 2014 uprising," he says.

"The foreign assets of these government ministers have been frozen, and they can't get a visa for the United States. Washington acts, and the countries in the region do not."

Read more: The Americas summit could be historic | Americas | DW.DE | 09.04.2015

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