World in View: Obama meets Castro

From the May-June 2015 issue of News & Letters

For the first time since the Summit of the Americas meetings of heads of state were initiated in 1994, Cuba was invited to participate, and an hour-long private meeting took place between Raúl Castro and Barack Obama. As a result, the Summit had considerably less tension than previous ones.

Yet just three weeks before the Summit, Obama signed an executive order calling Venezuela “an extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States.” While the Administration later backtracked on the language, it certainly sent a message that the U.S. continues to consider Latin America its backyard. No need here to defend all of Venezuela’s actions, but the U.S. continues its bully role, and not alone with regard to Venezuela.

The deeper truth is that the real possibilities for social transformation in Latin America, and with it an end to U.S. domination with iron fist or velvet glove, lie not in the choreographed dance between the U.S. and the Latin American governments, including “Leftist” or progressive ones, inside or outside the “Summit of the Americas.” Rather, it is the important social movements taking place within the various countries of the Americas, against their own governments’ rule and against U.S. hegemony, which open possible pathways for fundamental change.

Eugene Walker

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