Fri, Mar 27, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Ecuadoran president might skip summit over US ‘disrespect’

AFP and AP, QUITO and SAO PAULO, Brazil Ecuado

ran President Rafael Correa could boycott next month’s Summit of the Americas over “lack of respect” by the US for Latin America, Quito’s top diplomat said on Wednesday.

“At the moment, the president’s attendance is scheduled,” Ecuadoran Minister of Foreign Affiars Ricardo Patino said of the April 10 and April 11 event, according to a ministry statement.

Ecuador’s president, a leftist and economist by training, might miss the upcoming summit in Panama, the ministry said.

Given the US’ recent “lack of respect” for the region, “there could in fact be some change in schedules,” Patino said.

He also slammed a US government budget request to give US$1.9 billion in aid to Latin America for 2016; some of the budget was earmarked for programs promoting causes such as a free press in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

“Respecting human rights has nothing to do with these ridiculous proposals,” Patino said. “If anyone needs a lesson on human rights in this world, it’s the United States.”

If the US wants to have a “friendly” Summit of the Americas, “it should stop making these kinds of ridiculous proposals,” Patino said. “The United States has absolutely nothing to teach us, Ecuador, about democracy, human rights or freedom of expression, but we could show them a few things,” he added.

The US has high hopes of using the gathering as a chance to reset poor relations with various Latin American countries.

It also aims to highlight its new rapprochement with Cuba after more than 50 years of Cold War bluster, a rare bright spot in the eyes of most Latin American and Caribbean countries.

However, Communist-run Cuba is a close ally of Ecuador’s president and of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The Venezuelan government charges that the US recently plotted to oust Maduro, which Washington denies.

Caracas also says that new US sanctions on Venezuelans over purported human rights concerns are out of line and that the US declared Caracas a “threat” with an eye to invade the oil-rich nation.

Cuba has been barred from attending the summit for decades because it does not have an elected multiparty government, but the US has agreed to let it attend.

Meanwhile, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s office says she has again been invited to make a state visit to Washington, two years after she declined a similar invitation to protest a US spy program.

Her office said on Tuesday night that US Vice President Joe Biden extended the new invitation to Rousseff during a March 13 telephone conversation offering the choice of a full state visit in 2016 or a “high-level working visit” this year. Rousseff is to decide when she will go to Washington after meeting with US President Barack Obama during the Summit of the Americas.

White House National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in an e-mail that the visit was being rescheduled. He had no information on potential dates for the visit.

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