Ecuador president may sit out Summit of Americas: FM

 Ecuador`s President Rafael Correa could boycott next month`s Summit of the Americas over US "lack of respect" for Latin America, Quito`s top diplomat warned Wednesday.

Quito: Ecuador`s President Rafael Correa could boycott next month`s Summit of the Americas over US "lack of respect" for Latin America, Quito`s top diplomat warned Wednesday.

"At the moment, the president`s attendance is scheduled," Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said of the April 10-11 event, according to a foreign ministry statement.

The United States has high hopes of using the gathering as a chance to re-set poor relations with various Latin America countries.

It also aims to highlight its new rapprochement with Cuba after more than 50 years of Cold War bluster, a rare bright spot in the eyes of most Latin American and Caribbean countries. 

But Communist-run Cuba is a close ally of Ecuador`s elected leftist president, and of Venezuela`s President Nicolas Maduro.

The Venezuelan government charges that the United States recently plotted to oust Maduro, which Washington denies.

Caracas also says new US sanctions on Venezuelans over purported human rights concerns are out of line, and that the United States declared Caracas a "threat" with an eye to invade the oil-rich nation.

Cuba has been barred from attending the summit for decades because it does not have an elected multiparty government, but the United States has agreed to let it attend.

US talk of democratic principles and human rights runs into bitter skepticism across much of Latin America, except Colombia which receives massive US aid.Ecuador`s president, a leftist and economist by training, might miss the upcoming summit in Panama, the foreign ministry suggested.

Given the United States` recent "lack of respect" for the region, "there could in fact be some change in schedules," Patino said.

He also slammed a US government budget request to give $1.9 billion in aid to Latin America for 2016; some of the budget was earmarked for programs promoting causes such as a free press in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

"Respecting human rights has nothing to do with these ridiculous proposals," Patino said.

"If anyone needs a lesson on human rights in this world, it`s the United States."

And if the United States wants to have a "friendly" Summit of the Americas, "it should stop making these kinds of "ridiculous proposals," Patino said.

"The United States has absolutely nothing to teach us, Ecuador, about democracy, human rights or freedom of expression. But we could show them a few things," he added.

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