Latin American officials participating in the Carter Center’s “Challenges to Democracy in Latin America” conference last week supported a lifting of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, which would enable U.S. companies to catch up with global competitors there and promote democracy in the region.

      Democratic preconditions for trade will be a topic at the Summit of the Americas 2001 conference, April 20-22 in Quebec City, Canada. The Carter Center group met to come up with recommendations for the summit’s agenda.

All 34 democratically-elected presidents and prime ministers of the Western Hemisphere will attend the summit to discuss the initiation of a 2005 Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a hemispheric version of Nafta, the current free trade agreement among Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

Lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba is a first step toward allowing barrier-free trade, said Jennifer McCoy, director of the Carter Center’s Latin American and Caribbean Program and organizer of last week’s conference. But quotas and tariffs would remain in place for Cuban hemispheric trade until Cuba meets the democratic preconditions recommended by the conference attendees, Ms. McCoy added.

      Among Carter Center conference participants were former president Carter and former Dominican Republic president Leonel Fernandez. 

      To learn more about the Summit of the Americas 2001, see or to contact the Carter Center, call (404) 420-5175. For full story, see