Another Club for Politicians?

2 Dec

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s colourful President, opened a summit yesterday for a new Americas bloc that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega described as a “death sentence” to US interference in Latin America.

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), met for the first time in a military secured fort, to discuss the alliance of 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries that excludes the United States and Canada.

CELAC should be a “political union to build a large power center of the 21st century,” Chavez said on the eve of the summit, pointing to strong regional growth, with many countries developing closer ties with Asia or Europe and reducing their traditional links with the United States.

Set up as a response to US dominance in the Organisation of American States (OAS), and having a leftist agenda, regional leaders discussed democracy on Friday without reaching any conclusions as to how their new group was to be operated.

With the exception of Uruguay, the other members of CELAC are, at best, listed as ‘flawed democracies’, many with a poor human rights record.

“For the first time, we will have an organization for our America. And if it works, if it’s successful, it can be considered the biggest event in our 200 years of semi-independence,” the President of Cuba, Raul Castro commented.

Argentina included its usual protestations about the British presence in the South Atlantic, and urged the acceptance by the meeting of its claim to the archipelago. Full support by the OAS had not been forthcoming for Argentina’s 1982 invasion of the British Overseas Territory and Argentina hopes that an organisation of South American and Latin States would be more supportive in its tired campaign.

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