Thirty-three Latin American and Caribbean heads of state are meeting in the Dominican Republic for five days to discuss a wide range of topics — on top of the list is United States President Donald Trump.
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a bloc dedicated to promoting regional cooperation and combating U.S. hegemony, launched its fifth summit on Saturday. Its leaders kicked-off the summit discussing the implications of Trump’s presidency.
Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas told his counterparts that the countries of the region “must support each other,” but should not “rush” to judge the administration of the new U.S. president.
“President Trump should be given space to start on a position that is favorable to Latin America,” Vargas told EFE. He added that Trump’s presidency “is a theme that must be analyzed in its context to each country” and that regional leaders should “wait a bit to see how his administration develops.”
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While Vargas and other CELAC leaders are keeping an open mind to their respective country’s relations with Trump’s administration, some remain weary.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrero, for instance, a socialist presidential candidate for the 2018 Mexican presidential elections, has fiercely slammed Trump over his anti-immigration and economic policies. In their stead, Obrero has proposed trade policies promoting self-sufficiency and domestic production.
“Enough of being passive,” he said in a statement. “We should put a national emergency plan in place to face the damage and reverse the protectionist policies of Donald Trump.”
Other topics to be discussed over the next five days include growing relations with China, economic warfare being waged on Venezuela, the conflict over Argentina’s Malvinas Islands, the ongoing U.S. embargo on Cuba, infrastructure development, and emigration. Over 400 delegates, joined by intellectuals and artists from the region, are attending the summit.
CELAC was created Feb. 23, 2010, under the leadership of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during the Unity Summit of Latin America and the Caribbean, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Unlike the OAS, the regional bloc explicitly excludes the United States and Canada.