In contrast to what occurred at the last Summit of the Americas in 2012, when President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina and Bolivia’s Evo Morales walked out, this time, Cristina stood her ground and spoke forcefully about the issues she believes to be at the crux of the region’s problems. In her nearly 30-minute speech, the Argentine president spoke with her characteristic candor, noting that this is to be her – as well as Barack Obama’s – last summit as head of state, and welcomed President Raúl Castro to Cuba’s first.
In her apparently unscripted speech, Cristina congratulated Cuba and “sister republic” Venezuela, and repeatedly called the US position that those two smaller countries constitute a threattoUS security “absurd.” She likened it to the experience of her own country under dictatorship, when the United Kingdom maintained “almost cordial” relations with the military junta, in contrast to last week’s revelations ofthe UK’s recent espionage and plans for enhanced military operations on the disputed Malvinas/Falkland Islands.
Referring to all of Latin America, as well as specifically to President Obama’s assertions about Venezuela, she declared, “It is ridiculous to consider any Latin American country a threat.”
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On Cuba’s first inclusion at the Summit, she said, “Cuba is here because it fought for more than 60 years with unprecedented dignity, with a people who suffered and continue to suffer many deprivations, and because this people were led by leaders who never betrayed the fight.”
On drug trafficking, Cristina implied that drugs are one more raw material the world’s economic powers exploit: “How is the money from drug trafficking laundered? In the banks ofthe countries that produce it? Or in the banks of the developed countries and the tax havens that belong to the developed countries?… The developed countries get the drugs and the money, and Latin America’s poor get deaths and guns.”
The President of Argentina went on to refer to the “soft coups” that continue to plague Latin America, using baseless accusations in the media and through NGOs “that are clearly aimed at destabilizing the region’s governments.” She pointedly asked, as in the drug war, who is financing these attacks.
Finally, Cristina returned to her love of history, and in rapid fire speech, raced through the story of Abraham Lincoln and the founding fathers of the US, culminating in a heartfelt repudiation of fundamentalism, while coming back to her initial theme of the need for sincerity in politics.