Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told a meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Costa Rica on January 28 that Latin America is living in a “new historic era” marked by unity and great opportunity.
CELAC was first launched in 2011 in Venezuela, uniting all countries in the Americas except for the United States and Candada. It was set up as a counter-point to the Organisation of American States, which traditionally been dominated by the US.
The summit discussed a series of measures to deepen regional integration and fulfill the demands of the people in the region, such as joint public health projects and a Latin American bank that can provide loans at low-interest rates.
Maduro also used his speech to predict that the 21st century will “mark the end of imperialism”. He backed Nicaragua’s stance in the summit in support of Puerto Rican independence from the US and called for an end to the US blockade against Cuba.
Speaking to the CELAC Summit that day, Cuban President Raul Castro said normalization of relations between Cuba and the US required the US to close the torture camp it runs at Guantanamo Bay – and hands the territory back to Cuba.
As well as opposing the US blockade, Castro also opposed US intervention into Venezuela, with new US sanctions approved against Venezuela late last year.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told the CELAC summit whose country will assume the presidency over the regional bloc, proposed establishing concrete goals to eliminate extreme poverty throughout the region.
“Currently there are 68 million Latin Americans that live in extreme poverty, in the stage of development that are currently in, our countries must eliminate all forms of poverty,” he stated.
Ahead of attending the summit, Bolivian President Evo Morales condemned what he called “neoliberal attacks” in a January 26 interview with TeleSUR. Morales applauded the Venezuelan people for “defeating political conspiracies with maturity” and said he would use the summit to bring "the truth of the Bolivarian revolution”, as the radical process of change in Venezuela is known.
Morales emphasised the importance of the summit stating, “We are going to address important issues such as integration in order to liberation our people of Latin America.”
Morales also attended a grassroots Latin American Unity summit being held in parallel with the CELAC summit.
Leader and organizer of the event Jorge Coronado said: “President Evo Morales’ participation in the conference is very important to us, partially because he is the continents first indigenous president which marks significant milestone,” leader and organizer of the event Jorge Coronado
Coronado said that, from the perspective of social movement groups, “President Morales has carried out a transformative process in America, by exploiting natural resources, combating poverty, and promoting the social inclusion of millions of Bolivians.”
At the Latin American Unity summit, social movements from the region applauded efforts towards regional integration and proposed the creation of a financial system specific to Central American contexts.
The summit statement said: “We propose the creation of a financial system specific to the Central American region, using the economy to serve the people, and not the interests of large transnational financial bodies, with a common agenda in Central America within a framework that respects self-determination of our peoples and the full integration of women in social as well as productive life and policies in the countries of the region.”
Participating groups also reflected on the global economic crisis, calling on Central American nations to become more involved in regional integration bodies such as the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), the Union of South American Nations and Venezuelan-initiated-Petrocaribe, which provides Caribbean nations with cheap energy.
The social movement summit included groups representing peasant, indigenous, and the working class sectors. It , declared their solidarity with countries across the Americas defending their sovereignty.
The groups expressed their solidarity with the progressive governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, who are in conflict with corporate interests to varying degrees and face destabilisation efforts.
[Compiled by articles at TeleSUR English.]