Fidel Castro is poking fun at U.S. President Barack Obama’s plans to sport a guayabera - a tropical shirt that is Cuba’s official garment - during this week’s Summit of the Americas in Colombia, where the Communist-ruled island will not be represented.
“The curious thing, dear readers, is that Cuba is prohibited in that meeting; but the guayaberas, no. Who can stop laughing?,” the 85-year-old former president said in the latest of his Reflections on public events, published Monday in the official media.
Castro cited press reports that Colombian designer Edgar Gomez is creating guayaberas for Obama to wear during the April 14-15 summit in Cartagena.
The shirts are worn in Mexico, the Caribbean, northern South America and the Philippines, and Cuba is one of several countries that claim to be the birthplace of the guayabera.
Launched in 1994, the Americas Summits are meant to include representatives of all 34 countries in the Organization of American States, but none has involved Cuba, which was suspended from the OAS at U.S. urging in 1962.
Washington says Cuba does not meet the criteria to take part in the summit, demanding that Havana make “significant” political reforms and re-establish some kind of ties with the OAS.
Cuba’s suspension from the hemispheric body was revoked at a June 2009 OAS General Assembly in Honduras, but Havana rejects any relationship with the group.
Cuba’s partners in the ALBA group - Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda - pushed for the island to be part of this year’s summit, but Washington adamantly opposed the idea.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos traveled to Havana in early March to discuss the matter with Cuban President Raul Castro, Fidel’s younger brother, and emerged from those talks with an announcement that Cuba would not be invited to Cartagena.
“As we have said from the beginning, this is an issue that requires a consensus, which, unfortunately, we have not been able to find,” Santos said, while thanking Raul Castro for his desire to “not want to create a problem for Colombia or for the summit.”
Though Havana accepted Santos’ decision without rancor, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is planning to stay away from the summit as a gesture of solidarity with Cuba.