September 2, 1999


FROM CUBA

Loves me... loves me not...

Manuel David Orrio, CPI

HAVANA, Septermber 1 (CPI-CubaNet) - The President of Costa Rica, Miguel Angel Rodríguez, has decided to reevaluate his decision to attend the Ibero American Summit in Havana from the 13 to the 16 of November. According to an editorial in La Nación, from San José, Costa Rica, "His reluctance is justified, as is that of other Presidents and the decision not to attend announced by the Presidents of Nicaragua, Arnoldo Alemán; Chile, Eduardo Frei; and Argentina, Carlos Menem."

The way the Summit is going, wags will soon be drawing Fidel Castro pulling petals from a daisy, saying "they're coming, they're not coming...."

According to La Nación, "up to the present, the strongest and most effective pressure to attend comes not from Havana, but from Madrid, in spite of the great differences between the governments of José María Aznar and Castro...."

Commenting on the Spanish position, the Costa Rican paper states that a decision to go to Havana should not be taken in terms of diplomatic or commercial interests, but in defense of principles such as liberty, democracy and human rights.

Consequently, the newspaper proposes that the decision whether to go or not should be based on the will to "present a clear and direct message in favor of democracy and human rights, not only with speeches, but with meetings, visits and recognition to dissidents and independent journalists" in Cuba.

In fact, the Spanish and Latin American countries have reached a consensus on two issues: liberty for Cubans -it's that simple- and an end to unilateral economic sanctions against Cuba.

In this sense a Presidential decision not to attend would send the United States a mixed signal, and one to attend would do something similar to Fidel Castro's governnment. One can almost see the Latin American Presidents plucking daisies: "I'm going..., I'm not going....

During previous summits, other Latin American peoples have had direct, live access to the speeches of the Presidents. Not so the Cubans, restricted to Castro's speeches.

It would be wonderful for the Latin American leaders to converge in Havana advocating democracy for the people of the Island and an end to unilateral sanctions, as long as regular Cubans could witness such a spectacle through the screens of their TV sets, without cuts, without editing, without opportunity for the censors to present only their side.

If what is wanted is freedom of expression for Cubans, the first order of business is to guarantee them freedom of information about the Summit being held in their own backyard. Otherwise, it might be best to let Fidel Castro run out of petals on his daisy.



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