Latin America: Summit in Venezuela Opens ’New Phase in History’

By Federico Fuentes

, by LINKS

A summit of huge importance was held in Venezuela on December 2-3, 2011. Two hundred years after Latin America’s independence fighters first raised the battle cry for a united Latin America, 33 heads of state from across the region came together to form the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

For Latin America, the summit represented a further step away from its traditional role as the United States’ backyard and its emergence as a player in its own right in international politics.

The importance of this new institution in world politics cannot be overstated. The combined gross domestic product of the countries within CELAC make it the third-largest economic powerhouse in the world. It is also home to the world’s largest oil reserves and the first and third largest global producers of food and energy, respectively.

CELAC also builds on existing inter-regional bodies and experiments. These include the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), UNASUR’s Defence Council, the Bank of the South (which only awaits the approval of the Uruguayan parliament in order to bring to life a bank that will count on US$20 billion for development projects) and the establishment of trade mechanisms between some countries that replaces the US dollar with local and new regional currencies.

Another important integration initiative is the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), a nine-country anti-imperialist bloc initially formed in 2004 by socialist governments of Cuba and Venezuela.

CELAC explicitly excludes the US and Canada.

However, Cuba, which has been excluded from the Organisation of American States (OAS) for daring to challenge the US empire and carry out a revolution, was not only included but selected to host the 2013 CELAC summit. Chile had already been selected to host the 2012 summit.

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