CELAC: Latin American People Strive for Integration and Unity

By Alejandra Garcia on January 9, 2022



Friday Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, assumed the pro tempore presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) for 2022. His first words, after accepting this great challenge, was to call on the people to move forward in integration and strengthen the dialogue to continue building a region at peace. This theme of deepening Latin America integration has been the thrust of the organization for over a decade excluding the US and Canada but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some member nations there to do their bidding.

“It is an honor that Argentina has been unanimously proclaimed at the head of CELAC’s leadership for the 2022 term. We will take that confidence as a recognition that our country is capable of articulating dialogue and consensus,” he said.

Fernandez took on this challenge “with the conviction of those who believe that we are all part of a Greater Homeland, although many do the impossible to divide us and subjugate us.” And sure enough Colombia’s Deputy Minister of Multilateral Affairs Maria Carmelina Londono broke from the spirit of unity to criticize the “opportunistic silences” of CELAC on the human rights violations of three members of the organization. How ironic that this would come from Colombia that is virtually at war against its own people while being the largest drug-trafficking country in the hemisphere. Although Londono did not mention the countries by name everyone knew that she was referring to Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua; the three countries on the top of the hit list of the US to sabotage.

To get the meeting back on track the foreign ministers of Nicaragua and Venezuela responded not to Colombia’s subservience but condemned the “coercive and unilateral” measures promoted by the US against them and Cuba that has been subject to the longest blockade in modern history.

But this great regional mechanism, made up of 33 nations, was not born to oppose anyone or confront any of the existing institutions, nor to meddle in the political and economic life of any country and that was the overriding theme carried throughout the meeting.

“It was born as a forum in favor of ourselves, which always promoted consensus and plurality in a framework of democratic coexistence without exclusions,” the Argentine president highlighted during the Plenary Session of Latin American Foreign Affairs Ministers, which took place at the San Martin Palace in the City of Buenos Aires.

This year was tough, but Latin America was more united than ever before

During the meeting, senior Latin American officials also highlighted the actions taken during 2020 and 2021 to revitalize CELAC and maintain its activism in the midst of the multiple challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“During this difficult time, our community was able to organize the production of vaccines to contain the virus’ aggressive pace,” the Foreign Minister of Mexico -which held CELAC’s pro tempore presidency for the past two years- Marcelo Ebrard pointed out.

In this regard, he cited the partnership between his government and Argentina to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine, the donation to several countries in the region, and the creation of local vaccines, such as those developed by Cuba.

Ebrad mentioned other advances, such as the merging of drug regulatory agencies and the creation of a network of virologists.

As for technological innovation, the Argentine official highlighted the launch of the University of Latin America and the Caribbean’s patent catalog, the creation of a disaster and climate change mitigation fund, and the creation of the Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency.

Much remains to be done

The countries of the region face a number of complexities, which is why Argentina included in its work agenda a list of priorities that include, mainly, the fight against climate change.

During his presentation, the Argentine president said that the environment should be the focus of CELAC’s attention. “To a greater or lesser extent, we are all affected by the negative effects of climate change. However, our insular Caribbean America has been suffering the effects in a more worrying way.”

There, climate phenomena affect entire populations, the politician stressed. “We cannot sit idly by while global warming causes irreparable damage to our people,” he emphasized and added: “It must be at the top of our agenda.”

Through coordinated strategies, “we will also work in areas such as health emergencies, integrated disaster risk management, educational exchange, the fight against corruption, and food security,” Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero commented.

“United we are stronger.”

Argentina called for moving forward with the task ahead, strengthening dialogue, and continuing with the integration tools needed to keep our region in peace.

“We are not starting from scratch -Fernandez said-, we are part of a history where many leaders have left testimonies that show the world that we are deeply proud of our culture of encounter and peace.”

The integration will be real “when the pain of one of us occurs, it is the pain of all, and when the success of some of us it is shared by all,” the president concluded. In this sense, he called for “Latin America and the Caribbean to be not only a geographic expression but also a political, cultural, economic and social expression, and a role model.”

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English