8th CELAC Summit puts the spotlight on political divides in Latin America

8th CELAC Summit puts the spotlight on political divides in Latin America
Fecha de publicación: 
3 March 2024
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The 8th Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was dominated by the presence of Latin America’s leftist leaders in the absence of leaders of other political tendencies. 

The summit ended with the 30-page Kingstown Declaration and eight special declarations, although so far only the final version of the document on Gaza has been published, although EFE was able to obtain drafts of the other texts.

The presidents of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro; Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva; Colombia, Gustavo Petro; Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel; Honduras, Xiomara Castro; and Bolivia, Luis Arce, attended the summit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, whose government has the same left-wing profile.

In contrast, countries with center and right governments, such as those of Javier Milei (Argentina), Santiago Peña (Paraguay), Daniel Noboa (Ecuador), and Luis Lacalle Pou (Uruguay), sent low-level delegations headed by deputy foreign ministers or ambassadors.

The Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and host of the Summit, Ralph Gonsalves, described the final document on Gaza as a state of “mutual dissatisfaction” and Lula regretted that Latin America and the Caribbean had once again become “a balkanized region” where “intolerance has grown” and “conflicts are allowed to prevail.

Gaza conflict divides participants

Despite statements by Lula, Maduro and Petro strongly condemning the Israeli offensive in Gaza, the final statement on Gaza was signed by only 24 of the 33 countries, even though it was not overly harsh on Israel.

The text supports the UN resolution for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, calls for the release of hostages, and supports the two-state solution, among other things.

The most notable abstainers were Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador and Uruguay.

Maduro’s importance

The most important thing that happened during the conference was that Maduro made a commitment before the Brazilian president to call elections in Venezuela in the second half of the year and proposed that Celac prepare a delegation of international observers to “participate in the process of preparing, holding and organizing the presidential elections.”

The president insisted that the elections would be “absolutely reliable and transparent,” adding that the country had perfected its electoral system beyond “imperial and geopolitical pressures.”

Push for a general secretariat

Gonsalves told EFE on the eve of the summit that he hoped that during the event, or during the next Celac presidency by Honduras, progress would be made toward creating a permanent general secretariat for the regional mechanism.

The Honduran Foreign Minister, Eduardo Enrique Reina, said at the closing press conference that arrangements would be signed with the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA) and the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI) to create “a kind of technical secretariat.”

Food security, climate change and sustainable development

The draft to which EFE had access of the final Kingstown Declaration addresses institutional issues of the CELAC, economic stability, food security, territorial integrity, sustainable development goals, climate change, security, Afro-descendant and indigenous peoples, gender equality, transnational organized crime, energy transition and even space cooperation.

And the special statements covered topics such as marine conservation, migration or integrated disaster risk management in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In statements on Argentina and Cuba Celac reiterated its “strong support for the legitimate rights” of Buenos Aires over the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) and called for an end to the economic blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba.

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