International Lawyer Gathering in Cuba Abruptly Cancelled
By JACOB GERSHMAN
May 20, 2016 7:13 pm ET
An intercontinental association of lawyers in the Western Hemisphere has
been forced to abandon plans to gather in Havana for its upcoming annual
The reason, according to organizers, was the Cuban government's concern
about who would be speaking at the meeting and what they would say about
the Communist regime and its allies in Venezuela.
The Inter-American Bar Association informed its members this week that
their meeting would now be in Miami. The abrupt venue change came after
its president, Carlos Lopez, flew down to Havana Tuesday at the urgent
request of Cuba's government-sanctioned bar association, according to
The Miami Daily Business Review has more coverage of the development.
Mr. Lopez said he met with the president of the Unión Nacional de
Juristas de Cuba who expressed concern that the general secretary of the
Organization of the American States would be participating in next
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has been a fierce critic of
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and "they didn't want anyone to say
anything bad about the Venezuelan regime," Mr. Lopez told Law Blog in a
phone interview Friday.
Mr. Lopez said he offered to withdraw the invitation to Mr. Almagro, but
that proved to be just one sticking point. "They wanted to have full
control of who was there and what they were saying," he said.
Founded in 1940 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the
Inter-American Bar Association describes itself as a "forum for the
exchange of professional views and information for lawyers to promote
the rule of law and protect the democratic institutions in the
Americas." The American Bar Association is a member of the group,
representing the U.S.
The association rotates where it meets for its yearly conference. Last
year, they gathered in Lima, Peru. This year's meeting would have been
the first time they met in Cuba since the association's inaugural annual
meeting 75 years ago in Havana.
Law Blog has sought comment from the Cuban embassy in Washington.
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