The Seventh Summit of the Americas will make history with Cuba's participation for the first time in 50 years, after the suspension of the island from the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1962. In Panama, US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will meet for the first time since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
— Rafael Uzcátegui (@fanzinero) April 8, 2015
One of the cartoons from the Panamanian press about the #SummitoftheAmericas
This year, 35 heads of state will attend the meeting on April 10 and 11 under the motto “Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas.” However, the new US-Cuba relations and the crisis in Venezuela are expected to steal the spotlight as well as be a source of conflict. As GV contributor Elaine Díaz pointed out in an article on Medium, Cumbre de las Américas: El impacto de las relaciones Cuba-Estados Unidos en las dinámicas hemisféricas (Summit of the Americas: The Impact of the US-Cuba relations in the hemispheric dynamics):
El contexto económico y político de América Latina, los cambios en los escenarios institucionales de las organizaciones intrarregionales y el deshielo de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos constituyen factores imprescindibles para comprender el desarrollo de la Cumbre de las Américas a celebrarse en los próximos días en Panamá.
The economic and political context of Latin America, institutional changes within intraregional organizations and the thaw in Cuban-US relations are essential factors to understanding the development of the Summit of the Americas, which will take place in the coming days in Panama.
So, what can we expect from the summit?
While there, a group of Latin American ex-presidents will denounce what they see as a “democratic disturbance” in Venezuela, in order to find an “alternative” to the Venezuelan crisis.
Last month, the American government suspended visas and froze the US accounts seven senior Venezuelan government officials accused of human rights violations during the protests of February 2014. These protests, which challenged Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, left 40 people killed and opposition leaders in jail.
However, the sanctions had a different effect. Declarations saying that Venezuela was “a menace” to the security of the United States generated concern in the region regarding possible interference in internal issues. The Venezuelan government took the opportunity to launch a campaign in order to collect 10 million signatures asking US President Obama to repeal the sanctions. People joined the campaign on social media under the hashtags #ObamaDerogaElDecretoYa (“Obama, repeal the decree now”) and #VamosXLos10millones (Let's get those 10 million):
Working non-stop for food security. Let's get those 10 million, which ratify our will to be free
— LaIguanaTV (@la_iguanatv) April 8, 2015
Cuban diplomatic delegation in Venezuela sign against the [American] decree
In the middle of all these tensions, Obama will meet with Maduro while in Panama.
The issue of alleged human rights violations in Venezuela and the letter that more than 20 presidents wrote denouncing the status of democracy in the country will only be discussed in private meetings at the summit. Moreover, these meetings will only take place if Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela proposes it and the proposal is approved by the rest of the leaders.
While Venezuela will surely capture a lot of attention during the summit, many netizens think like Twitter user La Divina Diva:
De hecho en una cumbre americana no deberia hablarse de ningun pais en particular sino de los problemas generales de la region #MiOpinion
— LaDivina Diva (@LaDivinaDiva) April 7, 2015
In fact, during a Summit of the Americas they shouldn't talk about a country in particular, but about the general problems of the region #MyOpinion
Panama will also be visited by business people at the II CEO Summit of the Americas, held at the same time as the summit in which participants will discuss commercial opportunities and investment possibilities that could be beneficial to Latin America's social and economic growth.
Mark Zuckerbeg, creator of Facebook, is also expected to attend:
— Rocío San Miguel (@rociosanmiguel) April 7, 2015
Mark Zuckerberg, owner of Facebook will be at the Summit of the Americas, and will launch Internet.org http://t.co/1rqkjKsuQR
As pointed out by Rodrigo Pardo, the head editor of Semana magazine, there will be ex-presidents, journalists, political prisoner's wives and CEOs in Panama, but the situation regarding human rights, political prisoners, limitations on freedom of speech and the growing authoritarianism in Venezuela (or in Nicaragua, or in Bolivia, o in Ecuador) will not be key agenda points during the official summit.
Rodrigo Pardo (Semana) subraya que lo importante en la cumbre de las Américas ocurrirá bilateralmente lejos de la celebración oficial.
— M. A. Bastenier (@MABastenier) April 8, 2015
Rodrigo Pardo (from Semana magazine) underlines that what's important in the summit will happen far from the official celebration
The summit has an account on Instagram, where pictures and videos will be shown. On Twitter, conversations can be followed through #SummitoftheAmericas or #CumbreDeLasAméricas in Spanish. More information can also be found through the link recommended on TeleSur's Twitter account, as well as on other media that have followed the history of the summit chronologically:
— teleSUR TV (@teleSURtv) April 7, 2015
Everything you need to know about the VII Summit of the Americas