The seventh Summit of the Americas 2015 was held on April 10-11, 2015. Heads of states from the Americas were present to discuss issues concerning their individual nations. The Summit is an official event which occurs every three years. This year’s event took place in Panama City. “Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas” was the principle theme of this year’s Summit. Overshadowing the entire Summit, however, was the high level meeting between the leaders of the United States and Cuba.
The meeting historical meeting between President Castro and President Obama at the Summit of the Americas was the most prominent and reported event in the press. This high level meeting was significant in terms of ending the severed relationship which exists between the US and Cuba. The United States and Cuban presidents have not met for talks in about 50 years. Optimistically, it symbolizes the beginning of a new relationship between the two countries. It is also the first time in the history of the Summit of the Americas that the United States has not opposed Cuba’s presence. All other nations have supported Cuba’s attendance at the Summit.
Obama has done a lot in the last six months to change the United States relationship with Cuba. Earlier talks with the US and Cuba began in January of this year. Obama faces opposition in Congress for his moves to change US – Cuba relations. Although he has angered Republican foes, he has continued to move forward in his efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.
Obama and Castro have agreed to pursue a new relationship but there are still roadblocks. Human rights and democracy issues, the embargo and removing Cuba from the list of US state sponsors of terrorism (also on the list is Iraq, Iran, South Yemen and Syria), still stand in the way of true change. However, it is expected that Cuba will be removed from this list in the very near future.
Obama stated that “The Cold War is over … Cuba is not a threat to the United States,” adding to reporters that he wasn’t even born at the time of the Cuban revolution in 1959.
Castro noted at the meeting that he did not hold Obama responsible for the current existing relationship between the two nations.
Obama indicated that it was an “opportunity” to move beyond a history of grievances and mistrust and set a course of closer cooperation.
At the meeting between Castro and Obama, Obama said “We are now in a position to move on a path toward the future,”
The outlook and forecast for this historical meeting between Obama and Castro is positive. Obama stated “over time it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship between our two countries.”
People now expect that the pace of change in the world will be very fast. The ball is rolling now and one major change will most likely create a ‘domino effect.’ Castro and Obama have agreed to disagree on certain issues but Castro has optimistically observed that the talks could be a turning point in the history between the two nations. Obama has called on Congress to remove the embargo.
Castro pronounced that, “We are willing to discuss everything but we need to be patient, very patient.”
Now that the Summit of the Americas is over, it is expected that the United States will remove Cuba from the list of US state sponsors of terrorism in the very near future. There will be increased travel from the US to Cuba and commerce will increase after this historical meeting between Obama and Castro. Change is definitely in the wind for the normalization of US – Cuba relations.