Cuban President Raul Castro welcomed Cuba's formal acceptance into the Rio Group of Latin American nations on Tuesday, calling it a "transcendental moment", along with renewed calls for an end to the U.S. embargo against the island nation.
AFP - Cuba on Tuesday was formally accepted as a member of the Rio Group of Latin American nations, handing the communist island a symbolic victory over US efforts to bar it from regional organizations.
Its adhesion boosts the group's constituency to 23 nations covering virtually all of Latin America.
The move was made during a brief and extraordinary Rio Group summit held on the sidelines of a broader Latin American-Caribbean summit under way in the northeastern Brazilian resort of Costa do Sauipe.
"We welcome Cuba to the Rio Group. We are certain that your participation will strengthen" the policy-coordinating forum, the organization's current head, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, said.
Cuba's presence in the Rio Group represented a blow to US attempts to isolate the island.
Havana, for instance, was expelled from the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1962 for eschewing multiparty democracy.
Cuban President Raul Castro welcomed the Rio Group membership as a "transcendental moment" for his country.
He also said that Cuba would not seek to re-join the OAS, "with Americans or without Americans," but respected the other Latin American nations for their participation in the Washington-based body.
"We belong and we will continue to belong in the Rio Group," Castro said.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a persistent critic of the US, hailed "this act of justice" in welcoming Cuba, his closest ally, to the Rio Group.
"Cuba has been badly treated. Cuba has been isolated.... Now the time has come. Long live Fidel, long live Raul," he said, referring to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, 82, and the elder Cuban leader's successor and brother Raul Castro, 77.
Date created : 2008-12-17