Summit ends with hope but no agreement on declaration
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, April 20, 2009 – The Fifth Summit of the Americas has ended without agreement on a joint declaration, but Caribbean leaders say the three-day meeting, held for the first time in the Caribbean, was a success.
The Central American leaders of Venezuela, Bolivia, Honduras and Nicaragua made good on their vow not to sign the ‘Declaration of Port of Spain’ because it omitted issues such as the 50-year-old US embargo on Cuba. Cuba has never been invited to a Summit of the Americas and regional leaders pushed for the Caribbean country to be welcomed back into the fold and for America’s economic ban on the island to end.
“The declaration itself did not have the approval of all 34 countries. Some countries had reservations about some elements of it and that is understandable because it is very difficult with 34 countries meeting and negotiating positions,” host Prime Minister Patrick Manning said.
“No one country is likely to get everything that country requires.”
It was however decided that the meeting would go ahead with adopting the document.
“We adopted the document today (Sunday), which meant there was not unanimity, but there was consensus on the matter,” said the Prime Minister who, as chairman of the conference, was authorised to sign the document on behalf of all his colleagues.
The declaration affirms the leaders’ “renewed spirit of cooperation, integration and solidarity” and the consensus to advance joint solutions to address the most pressing challenges facing the region.
The 97-paragraph document, which was negotiated by the countries over the past seven months, places an emphasis on fighting poverty and promoting development and social justice.
But it recognises that meeting long-term goals will require tackling short-term economic challenges.
“We are committed to addressing the current economic and financial crisis in order to achieve our objectives of promoting human prosperity and securing our citizens’ future,” the document states. “We are determined to enhance our cooperation and work together to restore global growth and achieve needed reforms in the world’s financial systems.”
Prime Minister Manning said he was “extremely pleased” at the outcome of the Summit, adding that the meeting “has turned out to be a signal example of cooperation and collaboration between the countries of the Western Hemisphere”.
He said the success came despite expectations that there would be confrontation during the deliberations.
There were strong criticism of US policy, particularly by left-wing Central American countries, but Manning said they all engaged in dialogue.
Among the issues on which they reached agreement was the need for assistance to be provided to Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
“A particular proposal was made and we agreed to study it and it has to do with funding of a particular kind of programme in Haiti and we agreed that the matter should be taken up at the Organisation of American States (OAS) and we could do so as early as the first of June, when the OAS meets,” Manning said.