(Updates with activist commentary)
By Nelson Acosta
HAVANA, May 27 (Reuters) – A left-wing bloc of nations meeting in Havana on Friday condemned the exclusion of some nations from next month’s Summit of the Americas, after the United States said it only wanted leaders of democratically compliant governments attend.
The United States will host the Summit of the Americas June 6-10 in Los Angeles and has said it will not invite the governments of Venezuela or Nicaragua. The summit coordinator said it was up to the White House to invite Cuba, but said Cuban civil society activists had been invited to attend.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel said this week that he would not attend “under any circumstances”, even if invited. Late Friday, an activist in Cuba said state security told her she would not be allowed to attend either.
The 10 countries known as the ALBA bloc – including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua – issued a statement from Havana saying they “reject exclusions and discriminatory treatment at the so-called Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles “.
Furthermore, they called the exclusion “arbitrary, ideological and politically motivated” and said that “this unilateral decision constitutes a serious historical setback in hemispheric relations”.
Shortly before, in a broadcast speech, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called the upcoming summit “erratic”. He applauded other nations like Mexico, which is not a member of ALBA, which had “risen to raise the voice of truth for an entire continent”.
The White House and the US State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, along with the leaders of Bolivia and several other countries, have threatened to boycott the summit if certain countries are excluded.
This week, Reuters confirmed that 13 of the 14 countries in the Caribbean community, which does not include Cuba, planned to attend the meeting in Los Angeles.
THE CUBA QUESTION
The United States has not made public which Cuban civil society activists were invited to participate in the Summit of the Americas.
Saily Gonzalez, a Cuban entrepreneur and former member of a dissident group who called for protests in Cuba last November, posted an image of her invitation, dated May 20, on social media Friday night.
In a later post, she alleged that Cuban state security contacted her family and informed them that she would not be allowed to pick up her visa at the United States Embassy for the trip due to his involvement in a court case related to the November call for protests.
The Cuban government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Gonzalez’s statements.
Gonzalez said on Twitter that she had planned to fly Saturday at noon from Havana to the United States.
“Despite the fact that I was prohibited from taking tomorrow’s flight and picking up my visa passport at @USEmbCuba, I maintain the intention of being able to participate as planned in the event which will take place in Los Angeles on June 6,” she said on Twitter.
The US State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Gonzalez’s situation. (Reporting by Nelson Acosta and Dave Sherwood in Havana; additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington; writing by Isabel Woodford Editing by Marguerita Choy and Sam Holmes)