Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Sept. 27, 1999.

"THE SUMMIT IS A NEIGHBORHOOD IN HAVANA" By Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - What can you tell us about the summit? Cuba Free Press asked a number of citizens of Havana about the upcoming Ibero-American Summit scheduled to be here Nov. 15 and 16.

Olimpia Bota came up with the most concrete answer: "As far as I know, the Summit (La Cumbre) is a neighborhood in San Miguel del Padrón." In fact, there is such a neighborhood in that Havana municipality.

A man waiting in line for the M7 bus in a Havana park, said, "Lately I hear a lot about the summit but I don't know what it is exactly. I imagine it is an event, like the Unaligned (Countries') Congress or the Pan-American games in '91."

Cubans don't much care whether visitors come to the capital, be they chiefs of state or not. "The only good thing is that they clean and repair the areas where the visitors will be," said one woman. Lately anyone can see brigades of workmen down the Paseo del Prado street changing lights, planting trees and washing walls and benches.

Someone who lives near the Spanish embassy thinks he will benefit by the summit. "Surely, president Aznar and the king will visit the embassy and the least the government can do is pick-up the garbage and clean the streets." In fact, according to the Spanish news agency EFE, the municipality of Barcelona will send 35 tons of paint to help spruce up Havana's buildings.

A retiree who sells peanuts on the street said, "Every time the government organizes one of these events, we end up losing." He thinks the summit will affect the distribution of rationed food. "All those folks who come get good food while we have to continue with the same hunger menu."

There were some, however, who were better informed about the significance of the summit. A university professor said, "When the Permanent Secretariat for Iberoamerican Cooperation (approved in 1998 in Oporto, Portugal) starts operating, these meetings can be followed and observed. They will be more than photographs and handshakes."

A retired attorney said in relation to at least three no-shows (Chile, Argentina and Nicaragua) that "it will be awkward, but each country has an argument for not coming."

Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press

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