Ibero-American summit: Cuba is not alone

Many of the resolutions passed at the 14th Ibero-American summit ending Nov. 26 in San Jose, Costa Rica, were of special significance for Cuba. The fact that positions introduced or backed by the Cuban delegation gained wide support is evidence that solidarity with Cuba is strong and continuing.

Representatives of the 21 nations attending produced a closing statement that rang out with a commitment to multilateralism. “We reiterate our adherence to international law, the goals and principles established by the UN Charter, respect for the sovereignty and juridical equality of nations, [and] respect for territorial integrity,” it said. The nations specifically condemned the unilateral and extraterritorial nature of the 1996 U.S. Helms-Burton Law as a violation of international law. They called upon the United States to end its enforcement.

A plenary session of the gathering passed a declaration introduced by Carlos Lage, vice president of the Cuban Council of State and head of the Cuban delegation, which condemned the Nov. 18 assassination of Venezuelan public prosecutor Danilo Anderson. Anderson had been investigating the 2002 coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez when he was killed by a car bomb.

The summit approved a regional commitment against terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations.” The Cuban delegation was especially pleased with a summit statement denouncing the freeing of four Cuban terrorists, including the notorious CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles, from Panama’s jails earlier this year.

“The countries participating in this forum will not give asylum or help to the four Cuban terrorists pardoned by the Panamanian government in August,” the statement said. The four were convicted in a plot to murder Cuban President Fidel Castro when he attended an earlier Ibero-American summit in Panama.

The main topic of the 14th summit was “Education for Progress.” Pointing out that foreign debt owed by Latin American nations had doubled since 1986, Carlos Lage proposed that a portion of the debt be assigned to meeting educational needs. He reminded the assembly that more than 42 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean are illiterate and 100 million are semi-illiterate.

The San Jose Summit determined to hold another meeting of Latin American and Iberian nations in 2005 to study the means by which foreign debt obligations might be transformed into financial support for education. The Spanish delegation, no longer constrained by ousted right-wing premier Jose Aznar, strongly supported the proposal and promised to lobby other European Union governments.

Cuba’s Lage observed that solutions to educational problems involve more than mere educational tinkering and that the final summit declaration “does not address the causes of this issue.” He noted a report of the Economic Commission for Latin America showing that poverty affects 200 million people in Latin America, 114 million of them being children and adolescents.

The summit passed a special resolution on Haiti, whose situation Lage said was “being forgotten.” He denounced the United States and Europe for cutting back on aid to Haiti and recalled that for four years the U.S.-government blocked loans that might have relieved suffering in Haiti. He said that, “because of its high level of illiteracy, and its precarious economic and social situation, Haiti’s problems will be only solved with international support targeted to develop the country via cooperative programs in the health, infrastructure, and housing sectors.”

He offered Cuba’s direct participation in health care and education programs in Haiti as examples of solidarity. Presently, according to Lage, 606 Haitians are studying in Cuba free of charge.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org.