Latin America: new regional bloc includes Cuba —but not US

On Dec. 2, heads of state from 33 countries met in Caracas, Venezuela, for the first summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a new regional bloc that excludes the United States and Canada. Unlike the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS), the new group includes Cuba. Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez called the summit “historic,” and predicted CELAC would soon supersede the OAS as the premier hemispheric bloc. Created as a result of an agreement reached at the Unity Summit held in Cancún in February 2010, the body includes both left-wing governments like Venezuela and Bolivia, and conservative ones like Mexico and Colombia. Chile‘s conservative President Sebastian Pinera is to be the first rotating leader of the bloc, and Santiago will also host next year’s summit. (Politic365, Dec. 5; ISRIA, Dec. 4; BBC News, Dec. 3)

In Caracas, CELAC members unanimously approved a document in support of Argentina‘s claim to the Falklands/Malvinas and anticipated that they will request the intervention of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the matter. The Special Communiqué Project on the Malvinas Islands states that the CELAC members support “Argentina’s legitimate rights in the sovereignty dispute over the Falklands/Malvinas, Georgia del Sur and Sandwich del Sur Islands, as well as its surrounding maritime spaces.” (MercoPress, Dec. 5)

See our last post on Latin America’s alternative integration.

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