Bolivia: Expel all US ambassadors
By BRADLEY BROOKS
COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil -- Latin American nations should expel U.S. ambassadors until the United States lifts its embargo on Cuba, Bolivian President Evo Morales said Wednesday. But his remarks found little support from other regional leaders.
Morales made the demand during a summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders in this beach resort in northeastern Brazil.
"I want to make a proposal that many are not going to like: Set a time limit for the new U.S. government to lift the economic blockade" against Cuba, Morales said, using the tough term for U.S. sanctions that Cuba and its allies use.
"If the new government doesn't lift the economic blockage, we are going to lift our ambassadors," said Morales, who expelled the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia in September over a different issue, accusing him of siding with violent opposition protests.
The Bolivian president's demand did not receive much support from other leaders, many of whom have expressed hope that President-elect Barack Obama will have a friendlier approach to the left-leaning governments that now hold power in many Latin American nations.
The summit's host, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the region should wait to see what policies the new U.S. administration will follow.
"We must be prudent and diplomatic and wait for Obama to assume power," Silva said. "I am hopeful that American policies toward Latin America and the Caribbean will change."
The summit that ended Wednesday has been a victory lap of sorts for Cuba, newly admitted into the Rio Group of Latin American nations. Cuban President Raul Castro participated.
Many Latin American nations oppose the U.S. embargo of Cuba, but none has cut ties to the U.S. because of it.
The press attache for the U.S. Embassy in Brazil, Orna Blum, declined to comment on Morales' statement, but said that "our policy toward Cuba seeks the promotion of the peaceful transition to democracy" and said it "reflects a broad hemispheric commitment to democracy and human rights as expressed in the Inter-American Democratic Charter."