Today the 15th Latin American Summit opens in Salamanca with the presence of government representatives from 22 countries.
All week there has been much speculation about the expected attendance of Fidel Castro, but last night the Spanish government announced that the Cuban dictator would not be attending the summit after all. He had been expected to attend, especially since the Latin american heads of state intend to issue a declaration condemning the US trade embargo on Cuba.
However Castro may have made the decision not to attend because he feared being arrested on arrival. Last week Spain’s constitutional court ruled that Spanish courts have jurisdiction to investigate crimes against humanity outside Spain and bring suspected perpetrators to trial, even if no Spanish victims are involved. This means that if the Cuban leader came to Spain, anti-Castro groups could file a legal complaint against him for crimes against humanity in Spain’s High Court which, in theory, could lead to his arrest.
He probably felt safer at home.
The only other Iberoamerican countries not represented in the Salamanca summit are the presidents of Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala who are coordinating relief efforts in their respective countries following the severe damage caused by the hurricane Stan last month. The governments of these four central american countries will be represented by their foreign ministers. The summit will also be attended by representatives of other international organizations, such as Kofi Annan (UN), Josep Borrell (EU), José Miguel Insulza (OAS) among others.
The leaders will debate three main topics and design a document with their conclusions. The first centres around the social-economic reality of the economy in Ibero America and proposals leading up to 2010 aimed at encouraging development and prosperity in the poorest countries; the second tackles the migration problems between countries within America and between Latin America and Europe, and the third deals with the international projection of the iberoamerican community.
During the summit Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is expected to announce a Spanish aid package for relief efforts in Central America and a possible joint aid package will also be discussed by leaders.
The summit concludes tomorrow evening.