CARACAS, Venezuela — About 200 legislators from Latin America and Spain have urged Cuban President Fidel Castro to resign, saying the Communist leader should end his rule with a "gesture of true courage and generosity."
The appeal was published Thursday in the Caracas newspaper El Universal as Castro attended the opening of the Ibero-American summit in Salvador, Brazil. The two-day meeting will gather leaders from Spain, Portugal and their former colonies.
The letter to Castro listed the names of 194 legislators from El Salvador, Panama, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela. Also listed were officers of the Venezuela-based Cuban-American National Foundation.
The letter said Castro was a "discordant note" at the summit. It urged the veteran leader to step aside and allow a coalition government to rule until free, multi-party elections could be held.
"End your rule with a gesture of true courage and generosity, giving new generations of Cubans the opportunity to choose their future, to know complete freedom. Resign!" the letter said.
Meanwhile, at the summit in Salvador, a document to be debated by the 23 national leaders attending the talks gave Castro a diplomatic victory by including a paragraph related to the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.
"There is a paragraph that expresses concern about unilateral measures by one nation against another nation that result in economic loss for that nation," said Flavio Perri, director of host Brazil's summit organization team.
Though Perri declined to comment on whether the language was a direct criticism of the 30-year-old U.S. embargo on Cuba, Argentine President Carlos Saul Menem was more direct.
"The document will address the blockade against Cuba," Menem told reporters on his arrival in this northeastern Brazilian city Wednesday night.
Addressing the summit on Thursday, Castro hammered away at the U.S. embargo. "I cannot forget that Cuba (is) under a brutal embargo, provoked and threatened because it is small, because it sought social justice, because it doesn't surrender," he said.
Castro also said Latin countries had been ignored by the recent meeting of the Group of Seven developed nations in Tokyo and urged Iberian countries to form a bloc for peace and progress.
Describing the world as dominated by industrial and political giants, Castro said, "We need to create among all of us a giant, in order to achieve real development and enjoy peace, independence and security."
Brazilian President Itamar Franco and Spain's King Juan Carlos are co-hosts of the summit.
The 19-page draft of the final document, to be debated by the heads of state, addresses such issues as science and technology, AIDS, drug trafficking and global trade.