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Manning to recognise Cuba as 'family member'

Prime Minister Patrick Manning is expected to give an important "recognition" nod on Cuba today as a "family member" of the Caribbean-Latin America region.

It will come in the form of a "Chairman's Statement" and stands in sharp contrast with the total silence on Cuba in the official "Declaration of Commitment" adopted by the Fifth Summit of the Americas, the Sunday Express was told.

This stand in favour of healing a "fracture" in the "hemispheric family" that occurred 47 years ago with the United States' trade and economic embargo against Cuba will be reflected in Manning's summary statement as chairman following a retreat at the Prime Minister's Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's.

As summit host and chairman, Manning will avoid any "undiplomatic gestures" in his summary of deliberations and decisions of the three-day summit that ends around noon today.

However, according to informed insider sources, the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister's "statement" will be designed to reflect the strongly expressed sentiments of the "great majority" of summit participants for termination of the US embargo and Cuba's readmission to the OAS-that is, if Cuba wants to be re-admitted to the organisation.

Absence of any reference in the "Declaration of Commitment" to America's continuing trade and economic embargo on Cuba and its exclusion from the Organisation of American States was a major issue for delegates from many of the 34 participating nations.

And overhanging yesterday's plenary sessions that followed a series of bilateral encounters, was the open threat on Friday by Venezuela President Hugo Chavez to deliver a symbolic "no" vote against the official adoption of the "Declaration of Commitment" as lacking "consensus".

Other delegations to also vote against the 'Declaration' are likely to include Nicaragua and Bolivia and possibly Dominica as part of the Caracas-based ALBA group of countries.

Caricom is expected to release its own separate statement on the summit that will reflect some of the "encouraging signals" received from bilateral meetings held, particularly with US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.