Security is tight in Port of Spain as the Trinidad and Tobago capital plays host to more that 30 heads of government, including US President Barack Obama, at the fifth Summit of the Americas.
The global recession is expected to top the official agenda as Latin American leaders ponder the possibility that a drop of one percent in the region’s gross domestic product could sink some 15 million people into extreme poverty. Off the official agenda, but prominent nonetheless, will be the debate over Washington’s enduring ideological conflit with Cuba. Hugo Chavez hosted a rival summit of his leftist allies earlier in the week, including Cuban President Raul Castro. The Venezuelan president was in characteristic combative form and did not mince his words about Cuba’s exclusion from regional groups like the Organisation of American States. “Where is there more democracy?” Chavez asked. “In the United States or in Cuba? Who has the democracy-meter to measure that? Is it true that there’s more democracy in the United States than in Cuba? I have no doubt in saying that there’s more democracy in Cuba than in the United States.” An unhappy coincidence that will perhaps focus minds is the fact that this summit is taking place on the anniversary of the United States’ disasterous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961.