We will have to wait and see if President Obama will speak about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) at the summit. The only two North American countries involved, besides the U.S., in the agreement at the summit are Mexico and Chili.
The TPP has proven to be a contentious issue with Americans and the agreement has not moved forward. Questions concerning protection of intellectual property rights, agriculture, human rights and civil liberties in some countries, environmental standards, and services and investments have caused negotiations to stall.
The agreement has been met with skepticism by many Americans because of the devastating effects a similar treaty The North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had on American industry and employment since its implementation in 1994. Still, the TPP continues to be a top goal for the Obama Administration.
Grab your hat it could be a rough ride in Panama!
While hemispheric reforms between the US and Cuba move forward, relations with the Venezuelan government continue to deteriorate furthering an ideological divide that could rupture in Panama next weekend.
“On March 9, President Obama signed executive orders relating to Venezuela; one formally declaring a ‘national emergency’ and the other relating to ‘the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States’ posed by the Venezuelan government. The measures, both legal precursors required under US law to introduce sanctions, were, according to US officials, not intended to be seen as being aimed at the country but as the necessary steps for it to take action against high-ranking Venezuelan individuals the US deemed responsible for human rights and other violations,” reported in the Dominican Today.
The Venezuelan government considered this a threat by the US to invade the country casting the Obama Administration as a destabilizing influence in an effort to overthrow their government, which is hyperbole by Venezuelan officials.
One of the repercussions was that on March 17 member nations - including Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent, Suriname, and Guyana, with Haiti participating as an observer - attended an emergency summit in Caracas to express solidarity with Venezuela.
Some nations are grouping to support Venezuela and have called on the US to “immediately cease its harassment and aggression.” Cuban President Raul Castro issued a statement of support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
President Castro described President Obama’s executive order as “arbitrary, aggressive” and “unjustified,” and suggested that the United States was willing “to sacrifice the peace and the direction of hemispheric and regional relations, for reasons of domination and domestic politics.”
The US perspective is decidedly different. A senior U.S. administration official told reporters last week that the use of "national security" language is standard when issuing an executive order to impose sanctions. “Most of the sanctions programs that we have, from Iran to Syria, Burma, across the board, rely on these same types of national emergency declarations,” the official said according to a report by Huffington.
Adam Isacson, senior associate for regional security policy at the human rights nonprofit Washington Office on Latin America, explained that under U.S. law, the executive has to declare a national emergency that threatens national security in order to freeze a foreigner’s assets by executive order, they said.
“It has to look like a big, special thing, if you’re going to do it,” Isacson told The Huffington Post. “That’s why it has that stupid language at the beginning. I think the sanctions themselves are pretty legitimate. The United States has the right to decide who gets to do business and own property here in our country, and we should be limiting the number of human rights abusers who get to do that."
Let’s hope one of the only “big, special things” in Panama this weekend will be delegates donning Panama hats. Having the US and Cuba appear together at the summit—or anywhere for that matter—is going to be monumental. Whatever other events unfold in Panama on Friday and Saturday, the meeting of these two countries will definitely provide plenty of anticipation as the 34 nations gather to discuss the themes of “prosperity and equity” amid the conflicts that are already being touted as divisive rather than unifying.
is retired and lives in Clearlake, California. She has three grown
children and one grandson and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Services
Administration from St. Mary’s College in Moraga California. On the
home front Dava enjoys time with her family, reading, gardening, cooking
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