In a significant development, in a summit that took on Saturday, Mexico’s president and other leaders said, Caribbean nations and Latin American countries should aspire to form a bloc similar to the European Union in a bid to wrest away influence away from the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS).
For many years, many of the leftist standard-bearers from the region who are part of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) have viewed the OAS as being too close to the United States, and have resented the exclusion of Cuba from its members states.
On Saturday, during the opening ceremony, the summit’s current host, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, reiterated the idea of a EU type bloc for the region saying such a revamped diplomatic body could better boost the region’s inequality-stricken economies as well as be in a better position to mitigate health and other crises.
“In these times, CELAC can become the principal instrument to consolidate relations between our Latin American and Caribbean nations,” said Lopez Obrador while adding, “We should build in the American continent something similar to what was the economic community that was the beginning of the current European Union”.
Leaders at the congregation gathered at the invitation of Lopez Obrador, with the stated aim of weakening the OAS. The summit’s kickoff focused attention on the region’s center-left leaders, including Peru’s new president, Pedro Castillo, Cuba’s Miguel Diaz-Canel and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.
In 2020, Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro pulled out from CELAC and criticized it for elevating undemocratic countries. This year, Argentina’s Alberto Fernandez canceled at the last minute due to a sudden cabinet shuffle in his country.
The summit saw fissures emerging among its leaders, with Uruguay’s center-right President Luis Lacalle making it clear that his country’s participation should not be interpreted as an embrace of some of the region’s more authoritarian regimes or a rejection of the OAS.
“We are worried and look gravely at what’s happening in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela,” said Lacalle, ticking off what he described as repressive actions including jailing of political opponents.
Cuba’s Diaz-Canel was quick to fire back Lacalle’s comments saying, neo-liberal policies have retarded social progress.
The Uruguayan President fired back saying Cuba’s communist government, does not tolerate opposition or allow its people to elect their own leaders.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez called for a regional body to combat climate change.
Bolivian President Luis Arce called for a global agreement to write-off debts for poor countries.