Venezuela: Chávez hosts a party for America –but “America” is not invited
The amount of initiatives to make Latin America a cohesive block remains impressive. There’s Aladi, OAS, Unasur, Mercosur, CARICOM, and Andean Pact (Pacto Andino), for starters. Now Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez has come up with yet another initiative aimed at summarizing - or perhaps replacing - some of them. Or maybe all of them.
Enter the newly-born CELAC, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y del Caribe), which has gathered some 33 states in the region under Chávez’s umbrella, with the notable exceptions of the U.S. and Canada.
“This is the achievement after 200 years of battle,” Chavez said Thursday, according to the AP. “The Monroe Doctrine was imposed here: America for Americans, the Yankees. They imposed their will during 200 years, but that’s enough.”
Apart from the exclusion of the two northern countries, CELAC includes Cuba as a member, something the Organization of American States does not.
On Friday morning, Cuban leader Raúl Castro arrived in Caracas proclaiming CELAC’s creation as a “huge event.”
“If it works and succeeds, we can consider it the biggest event in our 200 years of semi-independence which is what we’ve got so far,” he said. It’s the first trip outside Cuba in 2011 for Fidel Castro’s brother.
The meeting is something of a testament to Chávez’s influence in all things related to unifying the region, with a diverse array of regional leaders answering the call - from Uruguay’s President José Mujica to Granada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas - the summit included nearly all of the countries invited, including Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Surinam, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Jamaica.
One notable absence was Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, who cancelled his trip at the last minute to deal with the large anti-mining demonstrations currently taking place in his country.
The next CELAC meetings will be held in Chile (2012), and in Cuba (2013).