Monday, March 23, 2009

Latin American countries normalize ties with Cuba

HAVANA, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Latin America has opened a new chapter in its ties with Cuba as Costa Rica reestablished ties and El Salvador intended to resume ties with the country. Havana and San Jose agreed last week to resume diplomatic relations despite both sides have been caught by political disagreements on a number of issues in recent years. "Today the world is completely different with what it was in those days," Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said on Wednesday. San Jose and Havana suspended ties on Sept. 9, 1961. He said the diplomatic ties with Cuba were broken during the Cold War era, but the world has changed since then and the decision of restoring the ties is justifiable at this moment. Cuba's Foreign Ministry said the decision is "in accord with its call for integrity and unity with the brotherly people of Latin America and the Caribbean." In San Salvador, newly elected President Mauricio Funes said his government intended to restore ties with Cuba. The outgoing Salvadorian President Elias Antonio Saca had refused to normalize ties with Cuba despite the fact that its neighbors like Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama had done it. Now, Funes is expected to close an era which began in 1959, when the revolutionary army led by Fidel Castro took power and nearly all Latin American countries agreed to cut diplomatic ties with Cuba in the following year. Half a century later, Latin America lives another reality as many governments choose to step away from Washington and break U.S. isolation of Cuba. On December 2008, the Latin American and Caribbean Summit held in Brazil issued a declaration without precedent demanding an end of the embargo set by the U.S. against Cuba since 1962. It will be one of the main issues at the 5th The Americas Summit, to be held in Trinidad and Tobago from April 17 to 19, without Cuba's participation. The issue will be discussed at the Summit without the intention of cornering U.S. or anybody, Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Patrick Manning said last week. Many Latin American countries also called on the U.S. President Barack Obama to lift sanctions against Cuba. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Latin America expects Obama to lift or at least to loose its embargo against Cuba because there are not moral, political or economic justifications to keep these sanctions. Since end of 2008, Cuban Leader Raul Castro has met with leaders from many countries, signaling that Latin America is opening a new chapter in its ties with Cuba.


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