By CIARAN GILES | Associated Press Writer
Leaders of the world’s Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries demanded on Saturday that the United States abide by U.N. resolutions to end its “blockade” against Cuba, in a resolution that earlier drew criticism from the U.S. government.
The U.S. Embassy in Madrid objected to the use of the word “blockade” instead of “embargo” in the statement by the 17 leaders present at the annual Iberoamerican summit. Spanish officials countered that “blockade” had been used in U.N. resolutions as well.
“We call on the United States of America to comply with that laid down in 13 successive resolutions approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, and to bring an end to the economic, trade and financial blockade it maintains against Cuba,” one of a set of final statements said.
Foreign ministers from Latin America, Spain and Portugal at the summit had drawn up a similarly worded draft Thursday, irking the U.S. Embassy, which said it could be interpreted as a “kind of support for the dictatorship in Cuba.”
The final statement on the embargo differed only in the title and final phrase by qualifying the word “blockade” with the adjectives “economic, trade and financial.”
Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said similar wording had been used by the United Nations and nothing should be read into any change in the final phrasing.
Hours before the summit’s end, the U.S. Embassy issued a statement saying Spain had excellent relations with the U.S. government.
Relations between Madrid and Washington suffered when Zapatero withdrew troops from
Iraq shortly after being elected in March 2004. Those relations have yet to fully recover.
The most notable absence at the summit was Cuban leader
Fidel Castro, who reportedly stayed home to coordinate relief aid for Hurricane Stan.