The Summit of the Americas in the world’s spotlight

By Fernanda Duque Hernández

Cuba and Venezuela to lead forums.

The Seventh Summit of the Americas: Panama 2015, is about to begin and representatives of 35 countries are getting ready for an event which could be the scenario for diplomatic and economic discussions about the future of the Americas.

This year’s edition will also be the first international event attended by Cuban representatives since December 2014, when the island restored diplomatic dialogue with the United States. Indeed, an encounter between Barack Obama and Raul Castro – unscheduled at this point but widely believed to be inevitable – may take the spotlight.

Experts say that the Summit of the Americas is a key element of Obama’s strategy to foster good relations between the U.S. and other Latin-American countries. In fact, so many people expect that from this encounter that Cuba could finally be one more reason to be taken off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

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Another important aspect of this event will be statements from Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, who has lambasted Obama’s sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials accused of human rights abuses.

The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson, has said that president Obama will not make any statement about Venezuela and Cuba.

Although the aim of this international event is to strengthen investment opportunities and business throughout the continent, complaints about Falkland Islands and the maritime claim of Bolivia against Chile will be presented at this event too.

One day before the Summit, Barack Obama has made a 2 day official visit to Jamaica to meet with Prime Minister Portia Simpson and other Caribbean community leaders. The visit is believed to be aimed at strengthening relations with the Caribbean in the context of a Department of Defense report that expressed concerns that the islands could be an entry point into the U.S. for militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) extremist group.

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