U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement at the conclusion of the Summit of the Americas that took place in Cartagena, Colombia from April 14 -- 15. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Freedom and democracy are under attack and are eroding in many corners of Latin America. If responsible nations don't stand up for our values, future Summits may be completely dominated by the region's despots.
"The issue of Cuba's participation in the Summit - which is supposed to be reserved for members of the OAS - once again hijacked the meeting and was used to advance an anti-American, anti-freedom agenda. Instead of the OAS straying even further from its democratic values and admitting Cuba, I look forward to the day when Cuba legitimately attends the Summit as a fully democratic member of the OAS which respects the fundamental rights of its citizens.
"I am disappointed that President Obama failed to speak out against the assault on democracy taking place in the region. It was also frustrating to learn that the U.S. was not leading the discussions on matters of security. We cannot abdicate our important role in this area.
"We can and must do better. The U.S. must take advantage of the benefits of a vibrant region with a fast growing economy. The announcement of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement implementation plan coming into force in a month is great news for businesses in South Florida that will benefit from expanding exports to the Americas. The agreement will create more jobs and improve our local economy.
"Responsible nations that participated at this year's Summit of the Americas must step up their efforts to advance democracy and regional security in the Hemisphere. The fact that no Summit declaration was issued plays into the plans of the ALBA nations to sow paralysis at these U.S.-led gatherings."