The Rendon Group Snapshot Report – 13 April 2015

by TRG Alerts Admin on April 13, 2015

The Rendon Group Snapshot Report



Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at or +1-202-745-4900.


Summit of the Americas in Panama


US President Obama and Cuban President Castro seen together at the Summit of the Americas



This week’s snapshot focuses on Summit of the Americas held in Panama City on 10APR15-11APR15.  The highlight of the summit was the continued reconciliation between the US and Cuba, as Presidents Obama and Castro met face-to-face.


News Summary of events during the week of 06APR-12APR

  • 06APR: Cuba’s trade minister said that U.S. President Obama’s moves to ease the five-decade embargo on the communist island are “incomplete and insufficient.” (AFP)
  • 07APR: From Mexico to Brazil, leaders in Latin America have largely kept silent amid charges of human rights abuses in Venezuela and are unlikely to speak out against their neighbor at the summit. (AP)
  • 07APR: The White House said Venezuela is not a security threat, in a disavowal aimed at defusing controversy just days before Presidents Obama and Maduro come face-to-face at the summit. (AFP)
  • 07APR: The US and Cuba are not expected to re-open embassies before the summit. (XIN)
  • 08APR: Venezuelan President Maduro said the summit will mark a “new historic era” in Latin America-U.S. ties. (XIN)
  • 08APR: Uruguayan President Vazquez said the US should provide financial help to six former Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were resettled in the South American country last year. (AP)
  • 08APR: A senior U.S. diplomat was in Venezuela for talks with President Maduro ahead of the summit. (WP)
  • 08APR: Cuba said it would remain steadfast by Venezuela even as it seeks to improve ties with the US, criticizing Washington’s Venezuela policy before the summit. (REUT)
  • 09APR: U.S. President Obama said he would seek to promote competitiveness and trade in the region during the summit, touting them as keys to spurring development and narrowing the gap between rich and poor. (EFE)
  • 09APR: U.S. President Obama said neither the US nor any other member of the Inter-American community “should remain silent” about the situation in Venezuela, though he stressed that Washington “remains open to direct dialogue” with Caracas. (IANS)
  • 09APR: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wants U.S. President Obama and Cuban President Castro to take advantage of their mutual presence at the summit to accelerate the normalization of relations between their two countries. (EFE)
  • 09APR: Former Latin American leaders called for “free and fair” elections in Venezuela and the release of “political prisoners,” in pointed criticism of the government ahead of a regional summit. (AFP)
  • 09APR: A group of pro-government Cubans muscled their way into a closed-door meeting of grassroots activists, disrupting for the second day in a row a tension-filled meeting ahead of this week’s summit. (AP)
  • 10APR: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriuez made progress as they held historic talks to restore diplomatic ties. (AFP)
  • 11APR: U.S. President Barack Obama told a summit of Latin and North American leaders today that his Cuba policy shift marks a “turning point” for the region. (AFP)
  • 11APR: Cuban President Raul Castro recounted the history of US “imperialist aggression” in Latin America in an address at the summit, although he absolved U.S. President Obama of responsibility for those past actions. (EFE)
  • 11APR:  Cuban President Castro Saturday affirmed Cuba’s socialist convictions, while calling for an end to the U.S. trade embargo. (XIN)
  • 11APR: U.S. President Obama announced that Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff will visit Washington on June 30, almost two years after she cancelled a trip over a US spying scandal. (AFP)
  • 11APR: U.S. President Obama said that he did not shy away from discussing human rights concerns during his historic meeting with Cuban leader Raul Castro. (AFP)
  • 11APR: U.S. President Obama met privately with Venezuelan President Maduro amid a bitter dispute between the two nations over recent U.S. sanctions on seven senior Venezuelan officials. (AP)
  • 12APR: The seventh Summit of Americas concluded on Saturday without a final declaration, again. (XIN)
  • 12APR: While the US still faces plenty of tricky relations in a diverse region of 35 states, President Obama walked away with more salutes than swipes from a regional Summit of the Americas where the United States usually takes a drubbing. (NYT)



Sample of Twitter handles regarding the Summit of the Americas

  • @JessicaFaieta – UN Assistant Secretary-General & UNDPLAC Director
  • @Arturo_Sarukhan – Brookings, Fmr. Mexican Amb. To US
  • @shannonkoneil – CFR Senior Fellow for Latin America
  • @dan_restrepo – Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
  • @htrinkunas – Latin America Director, Brookings Institute
  • @carlmeacham – America Programs Director, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • @joshrogin – Columnist: Bloomberg View, Political Analyst: CNN
  • @jimsciutto – CNN Chief National Security Correstpondent
  • @MajorCBS – Chief White House Correspondent, CBS News
  • @WilliamsJon – Managing Editor, International News, ABC



Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the Summit of the Americas


Dan Restrepo, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

“It’s symbolically quite important. Having removed this excuse, you make it more difficult for those whose basic political narrative in the Americas is to rail against the empire.”

–       Obama aides discuss Vatican role in warming relations with Cuba, LA Times, 10APR2015


José Miguel Vivanco, Director, Human Rights Watch

“It opens the door for the U.S. government by removing this argument that has been a pretext and an issue that has been invoked, not only by Cuba but other countries in the region, as a distraction,”

–       Overtures to Cuba Change Dynamic for Obama at Summit Meeting, New York Times, 11APR2015


Cynthia J. Arnson, Director of the Latin American Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

“This summit represents an opportunity to debate these issues that should not be squandered, or lost in the obsession over how Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will greet each other. And the United States has much to offer.”

–       Will the US Botch its chances at the Summit of the Americas?, LA Times, 08APR2015


Harold Trinkunas, Latin America Director, Brookings Institution

There is broad recognition that the administration has “gone as far as they could through executive action”… Even though congressional Republicans have rejected administration initiatives, “people recognize the administration’s goodwill effort,” he said.

–       At the Summit of the Americas, focus is likely to be on the U.S. and Cuba, The Washington Post, 07APR2015


Carl Meacham, director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

“You’re going to have these two visions of the United States as the president goes to Panama City,”… “He’s going to get a mixed-bag reception.”

–       Diplomatic road may be bumpy for U.S. at Panama summit, USA Today, 08APR2015



Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the Summit of the Americas


1. Talks With Cuba Earn U.S. Raves in Latin America


Media: New York Times


Date: 12 April 2015


And the new star in Latin America is … the United States?

The reviews are in, and while the United States still faces plenty of tricky relations in a diverse region of 35 states, President Obama walked away with more salutes than swipes from a regional Summit of the Americas where the United States usually takes a drubbing.

The question now is whether Mr. Obama and his successors can capitalize on the new credibility Washington has earned, primarily through his reconciliation with Havana.

Continue Reading




2. Handshake for Obama and Raúl Castro of Cuba


Media: New York Times


Date: 10 April 2015


PANAMA CITY, Panama — President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba shook hands here on Friday night, and American officials said they would hold discussions on Saturday during a gathering of regional leaders, in the first full-fledged meeting between presidents of the United States and Cuba in more than a half-century.


The expected encounter was not on Mr. Obama’s official schedule, but it held deep significance for the regional meeting, as the president’s move to ease tensions with Cuba has overshadowed the official agenda.


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3. Opposing Cuban factions brawl at Summit of the Americas


Media: Los Angeles Times


Date: 10 April 2015


The Summit of the Americas gathering of the Western Hemisphere’s leaders here was supposed to be notable for the gradually improving relations between the United States and Cuba.


But détente or no, the bitter differences that continue to divide Cubans have overshadowed any goodwill.


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4. Summit of the Americas becomes ‘triangle of tension’


Media: CNN

Byline: Rosa Flores

Date: 11 April 2015


(CNN)The VII Summit of the Americas was supposed to be all about the symbolic handshake between the United States and Cuba. But insert Venezuela into the mix and Panama City, Panama, quickly turns into a “triangle of tension.”


Heads of state from 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere have met every three years to discuss economic, social or political issues since the creation of the summit in 1994. Cuba has historically been the wrench in the diplomatic machinery, with some Latin American leaders threatening not to attend the Summit of the Americas if the United States and Canada didn’t agree to invite President Raul Castro.


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5. Overtures to Cuba Change Dynamic for Obama at Summit Meeting


Media: New York Times


Date: 11 April 2015


PANAMA — Ever since his first foray to the Summit of the Americas three months after taking office, President Obama has seen one bone of contention frustrate his efforts to reach out to America’s hemispheric neighbors: the fact that Cuba was blackballed from the gathering.


He was scolded by Argentina’s president for maintaining an “anachronistic blockade,” lectured by Bolivia’s president about behaving “like a dictatorship,” and, in 2012, blamed for the failure of leaders to agree that year on a joint declaration — the result, his Colombian host said, of the dispute over Cuba.


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