Argentine leader set to discuss democracy for Cuba at summit


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Going against the wishes of many Latin American leaders, President Carlos Menem is vowing to ask the impending 34-nation Summit of the Americas to issue a "very strong" statement demanding the democratization of Cuba.

In an interview at his office, Mr. Menem said that he will raise the issue at the Dec. 9-11 summit in Miami and propose that it be submitted to the United Nations.

While he did not explicitly advocate the use of force, he cited the recent U.N. offensive that restored democracy in Haiti, which included a military blockade of that country.

Mr. Menem's stand is in sharp contrast with that of most Latin American presidents and could set the stage for a confrontation at the summit. Mexico, Brazil and several other countries that maintain friendly relations with Cuba have said they don't want to discuss Cuba at the summit because Cuban president Fidel Castro will not be there.

But top Menem aides caution that, while the Argentine president plans to press for the democratization of Cuba, this issue will be one of several that Argentina plans to raise.

The Clinton administration has not invited Cuba, citing it as the only nondemocratic country in the Americas.

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