Historic is the correct label to affix to the just-concluded Seventh Summit of the Americas in 2015.
This year’s theme was “Prosperity and Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas.” Both the theme and occasion were appropriate for the next step in the rapprochement between former enemies Cuba and the United States.
The most important story, of course, was the meeting between Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama. The two leaders exchanged hopes for improved relations and Castro absolved Obama for the more than 50-year discord between the two countries. Mr. Castro also repeated his appreciation for President Obama’s initiative to end five decades of intransigence between Havana and Washington.
In his official remarks to the summit, Mr. Obama did not mention his goal of improved ties between Washington and Havana. His focus instead was the need for cooperation among the American nations on mutual interests to improve education and training, upgrade energy infrastructure, assure equitable economic growth, and pursue shared governance based on transparency, accountability and a fair rule of law.
Mr. Castro, for his part, devoted several minutes of his nearly one-hour address relating the history between Cuba and the United States. Several regional heads of state likewise noted the historic development between Cuba and Washington.
The United States has had its differences in recent years with Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and even Mexico—our geographically-closest Latin America neighbor. Nevertheless, each nation’s leaders applauded the prospect of warmer ties between Cuba and the United States.
The specific summit speeches are on YouTube for Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Dilma Rouseff of Brazil, Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, and Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico.
There are many more steps before Cuba and Washington end their protracted cold war and establish long-overdue full diplomatic ties.
Much will be written in the next two years about President Obama’s legacy. Whether you are a supporter or opponent, this is one chapter that deserves recognition and applause.