After three days of activity, the fifth Summit of the Americas held in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, concluded yesterday with signs of rapprochement and détente between the United States and some of Latin American leaders most critical of Washington, as well as prospects for a new era in the history of continental relations.

In the first place, it is important to note that the meeting held recently in the Caribbean nation introduced new elements of the U.S. political agenda toward Latin America, as well as a new projection of both hemispheric and world power for the U.S. It allowed discourse with accents of multilateralism and respect for all American nations, which, in itself, is encouraging and positive, in contrast to the traditional, imperial arrogance of the White House and the arbitrary spirit with which George W. Bush administered, attitudes that led to a profound deterioration in diplomatic relations between Washington and a number of Latin American countries.

Of course, the spirit of rapprochement in the private gathering of American leaders could not lead to unanimity in the final declaration of the meeting. As stated by Prime Minister Patrick Manning, host of the gathering and charged with signing the text: The resulting document is a compromise approved by some and not by others. In adopting it, we recognize that approval is not unanimous. That recognition, far from being a sign of rupture or confrontation between the countries convened at the Summit, places in clear relief the general intention to allow dialogue and consensus – although allowing the side-stepping of discord, including clarification of the initial position of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the governments of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which vetoed the statement.

Undoubtedly, a key element for progress in Port of Spain has been the attitude of some of the participants, particularly the governments of the U.S. and Venezuela. The spirit of conciliation that characterized this gathering, both of Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez, led to the announcement by the latter that a new Venezuelan ambassador will be sent to Washington, to assume the post now vacant for several months. Moreover, the willingness for rapprochement demonstrated by the U.S. and Venezuelan leaders contributed to balancing the weight of obvious political and ideological differences between the White House and the Palace of Miraflores, and to the conclusion that there are no insurmountable obstacles to dialogue and understanding between the two countries, as it had seemed until a few months ago.

Of course, what transpired this weekend in the Trinidad Tobago capital is only the starting point for the work ahead. So far, there is no certainty that handshakes and speeches over the past three days will effectively translate to the construction of accord over principal issues, like the course of action to take at the regional level, regarding the current economic crisis or the end of the unjust exclusion of Cuba in the so-called inter-American system.

Addressing these points will require, without doubt, additional effort from all governments on the continent, and where appropriate, greater pressure from Latin American countries toward Washington to rectify unjust measures, like that still suffered by the Cuban people.

In summary, the meeting that ended yesterday was, overall, successful and hopeful, but greater advances must be made toward a more just and equitable America, in which voice is given to all countries, in which there is respect for the principles of sovereignty and freedom for all people.