A Southern Summit Of Talkers, Not Tourists
Leaders in Cartagena don't set cash registers ringing
CARTEGENA, COLOMBIA — THIS sleepy Caribbean city is the perfect setting for delegates from 113 third-world countries to gather to discuss oppression by developed countries.
Cartagena was named "The Heroic City" by 19th-century South American revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar after it resisted a siege by Spanish Royalists.
Now this Colombian port city is the site for the Nonaligned Movement's (NAM) 11th summit, where countries from Africa, Asia, and Latin America are planning a strategy to defend themselves against what they see as 20th-century imperialism.
Cartagena has been given a facelift for the occasion. Some 50 10-foot-high prints by Colombian artists have been erected on the road between the airport and the city, buildings have been given a fresh coat of paint, and potholes filled.
Cuban President Fidel Castro Ruz, King Hussein of Jordan, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat are expected guests at the Hotel Santa Clara, a 16th-century convent restored after three years' work at a cost of $2.5 million.
The third floor of the Cartagena Hilton has been transformed into a mosque for the hotel's Muslim guests, mostly from Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.
Forty-five heads of state are among 2,500 delegates and visitors and 850 journalists crowding into Cartagena. But all these potential shoppers have not fulfilled the expectations of the local business community. "It's been really slow all week," said Jose Enrique Gonzalez, who owns a souvenir shop. "These people aren't like tourists."
Other Cartagenaros are bothered by what they see as excessive security. Those without summit credentials are stopped and subjected to rigorous searches.
Even tourists are put out. "We aren't allowed in to any cultural events," said Estel Esteban, a visitor from Spain. Tourists arriving Tuesday were not allowed to land at Cartagena's airport, which only accepted planes carrying heads of state. Only those with summit credentials can observe the spectacular music and dance arranged by the Colombian authorities.
As for the summit itself, the draft of the final declaration doubled in size even before it was seen by the foreign ministers and heads of states.
The usual in-fighting between rivals persisted. India and Pakistan vied for the presidency of the economic and social committee that was debating the summit's final document. In the end, both lost out to Sri Lanka.
A large section of the draft deals with reforming the United Nations. NAM wants a more "democratic" UN with a NAM member on the permanent Security Council. But even in the unlikely case this was approved, NAM members would find it hard to agree on a representative.