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News > Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

CELAC Summit Closes in St Vincent and the Grenadines

  • Fruitful day of discussions at the VIII Celac Summit. Mar. 1, 2024.

    Fruitful day of discussions at the VIII Celac Summit. Mar. 1, 2024. | Photo: X/@cancilleriasv

Published 1 March 2024

Created in 2010, CELAC includes 33 countries with a population of about 600 million.

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) concluded its eighth summit after a fruitful day of discussions that yielded positive results on issues of common interest.


President Maduro Arrives in St. Vicent for CELAC Summit

The Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and host, Ralph Gonsalves, expressed his satisfaction with the opening day in which the 33 delegations discussed the agenda in depth. Together they made progress towards the adoption of the Kingstown Declaration, with all major issues included in the text.

Gonsalves said that the Declaration contains initiatives to promote food security, combat climate change and maintain regional peace. It also refers to the actions needed to address groups such as women, people with disabilities, Afro-descendants and indigenous people.

According to the prime minister, the document is comprehensive and includes special statements on the economic, financial and commercial blockade of the United States against Cuba, the Israeli massacre in Gaza, the instability in Haiti and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Gonsalves revealed that during the meeting, the presidents discussed the need to take advantage of the subcontinent's potential to operate its own disaster mitigation fund and to open a science, technology and innovation center.

He further noted that they endorsed a Chilean pronouncement for the management and exploitation by the countries of the area of the existing resources in the seabed.

The Agency for Public Information reported that the afternoon session of the meeting was held behind closed doors. 

Created in 2010, CELAC includes 33 countries with a population of about 600 million. Below are the main events of its 8th summit as they occur.

The Bolivian president, Luis Arce, advocates strengthening Celac in the face of hegemonic powers' interests. Arce insisted that the strengthening of Celac and all regional integration spaces are the only alternative against war and foreign interference.

He raised a warning about a new wave of interference in Latin America. The president rejected hostile actions by the United States and the United Kingdom, that "seek to break the peace that we have established in the region."

During the height of tension between Venezuela and Guyana, the United States ordered air military exercises with the Guyanese defense forces, while the United Kingdom sent a ship to the coasts of that country. In this respect the president noted that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) achieved that Venezuela and Guyana have a direct dialogue.

He also questioned the illegal and illegitimate "unilateral coercive measures" against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, which he described as "perverse instruments of economic asphyxiation outside international law." 

Likewise, Arce referred to the Middle East conflict between Israel and Palestine and called on the international community and the United Nations Security Council to "redouble their efforts to promote an immediate ceasefire in Gaza." "We demand a final solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a two-state solution, allowing Palestine the right to self-determination as an independent and sovereign state," he said.

"Genocidal war and unilateral sanctions are expressions of an unjust, exclusionary and undemocratic international order, multilateralism cannot continue to be hijacked by those who seek to impose a global dictatorship," he added.

The Government of Nicaragua in its message to the CELAC member states expressed, "We dream of a united, supportive and cooperative Latin American and Caribbean Community." President Daniel Ortega's minister advisor for Policy and International Affairs, Valdrack Jaentschke highligted the guiding principles of sovereignty, independence and non-interference in the internal affairs of the states to which the region aspires. However, he noted "the reality is that we are facing attempts by imperialism to continue its colonialist and neocolonial practices, threatening the unity of our region."

Jaentschke criticized the consequences of the predatory and environmentally destructive capitalist system. "Our Latin American and Caribbean countries, which contribute the least to global greenhouse emissions, face the most severe repercussions of climate change: prolonged droughts, extreme weather events, rising sea levels and loss of biodiversity," he said. 

These are just some of the threats that limit our development, food security, access to clean water, public health, and endanger the lives of our people, the minister said. In this regard he advocated for food sovereignty, in correspondence with the eradication of hunger, poverty and inequalities. 

The Nicaraguan representative rejected the unilateral restrictive measures that have a negative impact on different areas in our nations in the economic, progress and social aspects that directly affect the human rights of our nationals. In this regard, he expressed the solidarity of the Nicaraguan government with the sister nations of Cuba and Venezuela that suffer aggression and coercion by the U.S. and its allies.

Colombian president Gustavo Petro stresses the need to promote peace. In his speech he called Israel's continued bombing of Palestinians in Gaza a genocide. Israel is committing "genocide before our eyes," he said, denouncing the support that Britain, the United States and the European Union granted to Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

Petro also called the failed war on drugs led by the U.S. government a genocide. "We have lived through a genocide of a million Latin Americans in the last half century."

He criticized Washington for establishing a fight against drugs on the basis of "repression, jail, police and murder and not on prevention and public health." In this respect, the Colombian president denounced that the big drug lords have been protected by corrupt authorities.

Regarding the process of peace in Colombia, Petro noted that "it has taken significant steps, with the invaluable contribution of the CELAC countries." 

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel says the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace is a historic milestone. "The Proclamation means hope for millions, whose main concern is survival in a world convulsed by violence and wars," he said.

To support peace is to defend the right of every people to freely choose their political model, and their own path to economic and social development, the president said in his speech.

In this regard, he called for the defense of peace with dialogue in the face of differences, cooperation in the face of challenges and more unity in the face of diversity.

Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva proposes a motion to demand an immediate end to the genocide perpetrated by Israel in Gaza. "I want to take advantage of the presence of UN Secretary General António Guterres to propose a Celac motion for an immediate end to this genocide," Lula said. 

He urged Guterres to invoke Article 99 of the UN Charter for the Security Council to pronounce itself on the situation in Gaza, which threatens international peace and security.

The president also made a call on the international community about the indifference to the suffering of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza. "Already more than 30,000 are dead. The lives of thousands of innocent women and children are at stake," he said. 

"The humanitarian tragedy in Gaza requires that we all be able to say enough is enough to the collective punishment that the Israeli government imposes on the Palestinian people. People are dying waiting in line for food. The indifference of the international community is shocking," the Brazilian president told the summit.

The UN Secretary calls for cooperation to promote development in peace. United Nations Secretary Antonio Guterres pointed out that Latin America and the Caribbean have shown that unity, solidarity, and cooperation are possible and enable the promotion of sustainable development and peace.

This, in turn, helps to address poverty, hunger, threats to social cohesion, and the climate crisis, he stressed, mentioning that arms and drug trafficking threaten LATAM. Therefore, the UN will support initiatives that contribute to mitigating the consequences of these scourges.

Guterres further criticized the international financial system, which he considered unjust and incapable of responding to the financing demands of developing nations.

PM Gonsalves stresses that peace is anti-imperialist. During his speech at the CELAC summit, St. Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves affirmed that regional peacekeeping is an anti-imperialist and anti-hegemony task.

Justice, prosperity, and civilized living are the means to achieve peace, he said, recalling that LATAM peace is often undermined by trafficking of U.S.-made arms to transnational gangs.

Gonsalves supported thus Mexico's initiative to present legal actions against U.S. arms manufacturers, and welcomed the fact that Mexican courts have accepted these actions.

Honduras Takes Over Pro Tempore Presidency of CELAC. Honduran President Xiomara Castro, who also serves as the president of the Central American Integration System, stated that she had the honor of assuming the CELAC presidency until 2025.

"As a proud representative of the Honduran resistance, I send a strong, giant, and brave embrace to the noble people of the Latin American and Caribbean Great homeland," she said and reaffirmed her "unwavering commitment" to peace.

Castro recalled that the proclamation of LATAM as a "Peace Zone", which was ratified at the second CELAC summit held in Havana, celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2024.

"Despite all the difficulties we have faced, we have managed to maintain our historical custom of being a war-free zone. Today we must reaffirm our commitment that never will a people of Latin America and the Caribbean use violence against a brotherly country."

"The problems and differences among this bloc's countries must be resolved among ourselves without external interference or pressure, using dialogue as a tool, and always thinking about regional well-being and the self-determination of peoples," Castro stated.

"I am a defender of peace. Latin America must raise its voice," she said, concluding her speech by recalling the words of Honduran environmentalist Berta Caceres, who urged to "exercise humanity because there is no time left."

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