HAVANA - Officials from the left-leaning ALBA bloc of Latin American countries threw down the gauntlet to the United States on Wednesday by insisting Cuba participate in April's Sixth Summit of the Americas in Colombia and asking the host country to invite the communist island.
ALBA, founded in 2004 by Venezuela and Cuba, is a grouping of eight countries that has positioned itself as a counterpoint to US influence in Latin America. ALBA also includes Ecuador, Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, the Commonwealth of Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
In a meeting of ALBA's Political Council, the officials put off a decision on a threatened boycott of the summit if Cuba does not attend, saying they would see how the latest US-Cuba dust-up plays out.
Cuba has said it would like to take part in the event, but Washington insists it cannot unless it institutes democratic reforms that permit it to rejoin the Organization of American States, which organized the summit along with host Colombia.
The communist island, tossed from the OAS in 1962 and invited back in 2009, has no intention of rejoining because the OAS "has served, for purposes of domination, occupation and aggression, as a platform for the United States to attack and plunder Latin America and the Caribbean," said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.
The United States and Cuba have been at each other's throats since the Caribbean island's 1959 revolution, with Washington demanding more democracy and broader human rights for Cuba and Cuba telling the superpower 145 km away to mind its own business.