PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Latin American leaders and officials hailed the results of the fifth Summit of the Americas that ended here Sunday despite a last-minute disagreement over the signing of a declaration.
Five nations from the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) -- Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Dominica and Honduras -- refused to sign the final declaration of the meeting as they wanted Cuba, also a member of the ALBA, to attend the next summit.
The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, ruled out earlier media reports that Cuba, which was excluded from the OAS in the 1960s, had proposed to host the next summit, saying the issue would be decided in Honduras when OAS holds its general meeting in June.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who was among those that refused to sign the declaration, also considered the meeting a success.
"The summit, though not perfect, was close to perfection," said Chavez. "Cordiality prevailed, and the summit successfully led to a new atmosphere."
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gives U.S. President Barack Obama a copy of "Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina" by author Eduardo Galiano during a meeting at the Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad April 18, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
He described the third Summit of the Americas, the first he attended, as "cold and walled in, in which the empire had its way and all were silent except Venezuela."
By contrast, this week's summit "opened all the doors to a new era of good relations to all nations on this continent," he said.
During the summit, Venezuela agreed to exchange ambassadors with the United States, reversing a decision made after clashes with former U.S. president George W. Bush. Chavez has appointed Roy Chaderton, Venezuela's ambassador to the OAS, as a candidate for the post.
Chavez said he was confident that the United States and Venezuela would reestablish good relations under the administration of Barack Obama, who took office in January. During their meeting on the sidelines of the summit, Chavez asked Obama to keep his promise not to interfere in other nations' internal affairs.
"I believe we'll likely see a positive evolution in the relations between the United States and Latin America. It is possible to create a new dynamic of partnership and contribution," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said after meeting with Obama.
Bolivia's President Evo Morales Ayma (R) gestures upon his arrival for the closing ceremony of the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, April 19, 2009.(Xinhua/Juan Carlos Hernandez)
"There is a willingness on Obama's part to work in a new direction with Latin America and the Caribbean and we share that vision," Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon told media that the summit had been "enriched" by plurality.
Panamanian President Martin Torrijos described the meeting as "constructive" and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez said the relations between the United States and Latin America had achieved significant advances.
Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Fander Falconi said the summit was "positive" and ended with a fruitful dialogue between Latin American nations and the United States.
Presidents of Chile Michelle Bachelet, Argentina Cristina Fernandez, the U.S. Barack Obama and Brazil Inacio Lula da Silva (L-R) talk before the opening ceremony of the 5th Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain April 17, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Despite the overall positive outcome of the summit, leaders attending the meeting did not put their signature to the final declaration due to reservations over some elements of the document.
Leaders decided to "adopt the Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain" and delegate to the summit host, Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Patrick Manning, the act of signing the document.
"The declaration itself did not have the complete approval of all 34 countries. Some countries had reservations about some elements, and that is understandable," said Manning, without going into details.