HAVANA – The Cuban government criticized U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday for calling for democratic change in Cuba during last weekend's Summit of the Americas, where Havana's exclusion was a major issue.
In a strongly worded statement published in Communist Party newspaper Granma, President Raul Castro's government described demands by other regional leaders from across the political spectrum that Cuba be included next time as a "rebellion" against Washington.
"President Obama should realize that the Cartagena summit was not propitious for advising democracy in Cuba," the communique said. "We Cubans will take care of Cuba."
The United States and Canada were alone in opposing Cuban participation in the Summit of the Americas. They rejected other nations' proposal that Havana be invited next time, and the gathering in Colombia concluded without a final joint declaration.
Washington argues that Cuba must enact democratic reforms before it is allowed to attend the regional meetings. In Cartagena on Sunday, Obama suggested that could happen in the future.
"There may be an opportunity in the coming years as Cuba begins to look at where it needs to go in order to give its people the kind of prosperity and opportunity that it needs, that it starts loosening up some constraints within that country, and that's something that we will welcome," he said.
The statement in Granma said the summit made it clear that Washington "has not changed its policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean," and called on other nations to maintain unity in the face of "attempts to divide and derail us."