Fidel fails to arrive at Latin American summit

14th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

14 October 2005, SALAMANCA — With the conspicuous absence of Fidel Castro, Latin America leaders began an Ibero-American summit designed to achieve more than "presidential tourism".

14 October 2005

SALAMANCA — With the conspicuous absence of Fidel Castro, Latin America leaders began an Ibero-American summit designed to achieve more than "presidential tourism".

The heads of state want to achieve more than rhetoric and set concrete goals.

The summit, which lasts until Saturday, is to focus on three big themes: the socio-economic situation in the region, immigration and the role of Ibero-America in the world.

But first the leaders of 22 Latin American and Iberian nations observed a minute of silence to honour victims of flooding and mudslides in Central America and Spain.

Rains associated with last week's Hurricane Stan are blamed for the death of more than 1,000 people in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and southern Mexico.

Downpours battering the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia in recent days have caused the death of four people.

Uruguay's Enrique Iglesias, head of the new Ibero-American general secretariat, told reporters that an effort would be made to "reduce the rhetorical discussions" at these summits and move from word to action.

Colombian president Alvaro Uribe complained such meetings "are odious because they amount to presidential tourism".

Uribe said the international agenda includes "too many" summits scheduled "too closely" together. He said he was taking part in this one "because it's my job".

The permanent secretariat, which was created to energize, give continuity to and implement the mandates emerging from the summits, will have an initial budget of EUR 5.24 million.

Iglesias, nevertheless, admitted the new body was "not yet ready to submit a detailed working plan," a document to be presented at the summit in Uruguay next year after consultation with the governments.

The lack of action at the summits, since they started in 1991,
 Was commented on in recent days by several foreign ministers, but no one pressed the issue like Uribe.

The Colombian leader told EFE he was talking about presidential summits in general, although he reiterated his belief that the Ibero-American summits "must become useful".

Most of the heads of state and government from the 22 countries in Ibero-America, which includes Spain and Portugal, are expected to attend.

There had been much speculation as to whether or not Fidel Castro would attend the summit, and late on Thursday word came that the Cuban leader would not take part in the gathering.

Castro last attended an Ibero-American Summit in 2000 in Panama City.

Guatemalan president Oscar Berger, Salvadoran president Tony Saca, Nicaraguan president Enrique Bolaños and Ecuadorian president Alfredo Palacio will also not be at the summit.

Berger and Saca said they could not attend due to the recent natural disasters in their countries, while the political crises in Nicaragua and Ecuador will prevent the leaders of those countries from attending the Salamanca summit.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who plans to attend, was behind schedule in arriving in Salamanca on Thursday.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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