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  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro greets his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, at the closing of the 3rd CELAC summit on Jan. 29, 2015.

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro greets his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, at the closing of the 3rd CELAC summit on Jan. 29, 2015. | Photo: AVN

Published 29 January 2015

Regional leaders praised the summit as an important step in the consolidation of an independent Latin America and Caribbean.

After two days of sessions the third summit of the heads of state and government officials of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) wrapped up Thursday with calls to maintain unity and promote integration, statements of support of Venezuela and Cuba, and a plan to eradicate poverty, hunger and inequality in the region.

The Political Declaration of Belen — named after Belen county, Costa Rica, where the summit was held — includes 94 different points including a commitment to multi-lateralism, dialogue between countries, peaceful solutions to conflicts, and unconditional support for the United Nations Charter and international law.

Here are 5 important events and outcomes of the regional meeting:

1. Region commits to eradicate hunger by 2025

The focus of the summit, a point reiterated by many of the region's leaders, was the reduction of poverty and inequality. In light of this, the CELAC bloc approved a plan of action to eliminate hunger by 2025. Venezuela will host a meeting in the second semester of 2015 in order to follow up on the plan submitted to CELAC by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

2. Latin America and the Caribbean calls for end to U.S. meddling in member countries

CELAC, created in opposition to the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States, firmly rejected U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, calling them a violation of international law and a threat to peace in the region.

In another knock to the interventionist attitude by U.S. policy makers, CELAC also reiterated its proclamation from its 2014 summit declaring Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace. The regional bloc called on the international community to “respect this proclamation in its relations with the member states of CELAC, including the commitment to non-intervention, direct or indirect, in the internal affairs of any other state and to respect the principles of national sovereignty, equal rights, and the self-determination of peoples.”

3. CELAC calls for Obama to end U.S. Blockade on Cuba

The CELAC bloc and its member states overwhelmingly backed the decision by the United States and Cuba to restore diplomatic relations and called on U.S. President Obama to end the blockade on Cuba.

4. Leaders call for Puerto Rico to be included in future CELAC meetings

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega offered his speaking time to Puerto Rican independence leader Ruben Berrios Martinez, who called on the bloc to support the island's struggle against colonialism.

Regional leaders responded with calls for independence for the island and a commitment to include representation from the island in future meetings of CELAC.

5. Region to build a monument to victims of slave trade

Regional leaders also approved 27 special declarations covering a wide range of topics affecting the region, including a call to erect a permanent monument to honor the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

The bloc also approved resolutions backing Argentina's claim to the Malvinas and supporting the peace process in Colombia.

The special declarations also called for a new international financial structure, financing for development projects, and demanded action on climate change.

The pro-tempore presidency of CELAC was passed from Costa Rica to Ecuador. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa outlined the progressive policies the bloc will pursue in the coming year, including a commitment to eradicating poverty and inequality.

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