It was in 1984 when President Bill Clinton organized the first Summit of the Americas. The major goal was to gather all the Americas in a Presidential meeting and develop new economic and social strategies in order to move forward to a better relationship and interaction among North, Central and South America.
Today, 31 years after the good intentions of President Clinton started, Panama will host the VII Summit. The motto is "Equity, development, cooperation."
Story-lines to watch for:
1. The opening of relations between Cuba and United States
2. The great political division in the Americas.
If U.S. and Cuba move forward in order to normalize their diplomatic and economic relations, the relations between the U.S. and many Latin American countries will change for the better. The meeting between President Obama and Raul Castro in Panama should become the most important item of the agenda.
Political and social freedom in Venezuela will be center of discussions in the Civil Society Forum and very likely, during the Presidential Summit itself. Several members and groups in the Civil Society Forum will seek to unmask the situation, but confrontations are expected; Venezuelan diplomats and political officers will not remain silent.
The United States has said that the administration will focus on Cuba, but it will be interesting to see how the situation in Venezuela comes to the floor, fully or partially.
In this frame, B´nai B´rith will stand very firm in the Civil Society Forum regarding the need to ask the governments of the region to defend human rights, non-discriminatory practices and freedom and the rule of law.