The Chileans say the Paraguayans could have attended if they had wanted to, but diplomatic sources say that in private they were told to stay away. Paraguay has been suspended from at least two other regional bodies since last June, when President Fernando Lugo was controversially impeached by the senate and replaced by his Vice President Federico Franco.
“The decision to effectively exclude Paraguay is quite revealing of the double standards of the region,” HRW’s Vivanco said.
During his three-day visit to Chile, Castro faced a number of small protests, led by members of the Independent Democratic Union (UDI), the largest and most conservative party in the Chilean government. It accuses Castro of harboring at least four Chileans wanted in connection with the assassination of Jaime Guzmán, a founder of the UDI and its guiding light. Guzmán, a Chilean senator, was shot dead in Santiago in 1991. The UDI has been asking the Cubans for information about the suspects for years, so far without response.
Piñera raised the issue with Castro during a bilateral meeting on Saturday.
“President Raúl Castro promised to study the evidence and cooperate as fully as possible,” the Chilean leader said.
Several CELAC countries reached bilateral agreements with their European counterparts during the summit, and Piñera hailed important progress in education, science, technology and energy.
But it remains to be seen how effective CELAC will be in resolving regional disputes and promoting the region’s interests in the rest of the world.
“CELAC’s raison d’etre is to get together once a year without the United States and Canada, with no budget, no treaty, no headquarters and no personnel,” Vivanco said. “And now it’s led by the de facto leader of Cuba? It’s hard to take seriously.”