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Fidel Castro mocks Obama over 'guayabera' diplomacy

Monday, April 09, 2012 | 2:49 PM    

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CUBAN revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has mocked the idea that US President Barack Obama could wear a "guayabera" shirt at an upcoming Americas summit in Colombia, while opposing Cuba's presence at the event.

News reports have said a noted Colombian designer is making a series of guayaberas for Obama to wear at the summit of the Americas in Cartagena, April 14-15.

Castro, whose brother Raul formally succeeded him as president in 2008, offered a history lesson on the origins of the light, tropical shirt, asserting that it was created in an area of Cuba that is watered by the Yayabo River.

"That's why they were originally called yayaberas," he wrote in an article published in the Cuban press.

Other accounts say the shirt's name may have come from the guayabas, or guavas, that could be carried in the large pockets that are sewn into the shirt's pleated front.

"What's curious, dear readers, is that Cuba is forbidden from attending this meeting, but not the guayaberas. Who can stop laughing?" Castro said.

The United States and Canada have opposed Cuba's participation in the meeting, which brings together 34 heads of state and government to discuss regional cooperation and a reduction of physical barriers to integration.

Other Latin American countries had pressed for Cuba's inclusion in the summit, but Washington has been reluctant to end a five decade old policy of isolating the only one-party communist state in the Americas.

Castro, while president, delegated his duties to Raul in 2006 in what was said to be a temporary transfer of powers but the move became permanent two years later.

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