Colombian authorities announced today a stunning deployment of security forces to safeguard the next Summit of the Americas, while also pushing for a surprise participation of Cuban leader Raul Castro.
The meeting, scheduled to take place in Cartagena de Indias on the 14th and 15th of April, will be supervised by 5,000 agents of Colombian National Police forces. José Roberto Riano, deputy director of the National Police, said in a press conference that security restrictions would be imposed on the city from Sunday 8th April, when the first delegations are due to arrive in the Caribbean city.
The VI Cumbre de Las Américas will bring together heads of state and governments from 34 different countries. More than a thousand delegates, 250 officials and 13 international organizations will participate in the event.
The presence of a Cuban delegation at the meeting has yet to be confirmed. On Wednesday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos travelled to Havana for a short state visit to allegedly discuss Cuba’s possible participation at the Summit.
Santos left Bogota with Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, who on Tuesday expressed hopes that the two countries would “amicably” settle on the issue.
During a recent meeting held in Caracas, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA), formed by eight Latin American countries, asked Colombia to invite Cuba to participate in the Cartagena’s summit.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration believes that Cuba is not eligible to be at the meeting as it is not a democratic country. The staff of the US President also expressed satisfaction with the Colombian security plans, estimating at least 650 of the 5,000 police solely in charge of the personal safety of the heads of states.
Special security divisions will include drones, 40 dogs trained to detect and dismantle explosives; a hostage rescue special force; a unit of snipers placed on the main roofs of Cartagena; a technical group ready to respond to nuclear accidents or biochemical threats and, of course, the Interpol.