Under calls for greater regional integration and to protect extreme right-wing democracy, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held its seventh summit in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, a platform marked by Brazil’s reinvention and ideological differences . And the crisis plagues the policies plaguing many South American countries.
While opening the meeting with representatives from 33 countries, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez affirmed that “the time has come to make Latin America and the Caribbean a region that protects common interests.”
Fernandez celebrated Brazil’s return to the political stage under three-term President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva after his predecessor, right-wing Jair Bolsonaro, pushed the country away three years ago, alleging it had become a stage It gave prominence to the leftist and “authoritarian” governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
“A CELAC without Brazil is a very empty CELAC,” Fernandez said.
The Platform for Political Accord was born in 2011 on the initiative of Hugo Chávez, the then Venezuelan President, to disassociate himself from the Organization of American States (OAS), after he and other left-wing leaders declared their “alignment” with the United inquired for. states.
Da Silva, a historic leftist leader who returned to power for a third time this month, arrived in Buenos Aires a day before the meeting, which was followed by criticism directed at the Latin American right following violent demonstrations by Bolsonaro supporters that broke out weeks ago. Happened at the headquarters. Legislative, executive and judicial powers of Brasilia.
In this regard, Fernández – a staunch ally of Lula’s in the region – warned that democracy was at risk after the “standing up” of extreme right-wing sectors in some countries and that the “regressive and fascist right” would not be allowed to keep the institution. requested to give In danger.
“We saw it a few days ago when madness reached the streets of Brasilia … and also here in Argentina when someone tried to kill our vice president (Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner),” Fernandez said, referring to the frustrated attack on the Peronists. had tried.” Leader on 1 September for which three youths were arrested and prosecuted.
The CELAC meeting comes at a turbulent time in South America, also as a result of protests by political dissidents in Peru and Bolivia, which Fernandez did not mention.
Peru faced a wave of protests after Pedro Castillo was ousted and jailed in December after Congress was dissolved. More than fifty people have died so far in demonstrations demanding the resignation of Dina Boluaarte in her place.
There have also been protests in Bolivia following the arrest in late December of right-wing Luis Fernando Camacho, opposition leader and governor of Santa Cruz province.
Fernández urged “respecting oneself in diversity” in reference to the criticism that the participation of the governments of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba in the meeting aroused among the Argentine opposition. “All those who are here were elected by their people,” the president said.
He also urged them to “raise their voices” against the economic blockade that the United States imposes on Cuba and Venezuela as “a perverse method” against the people.
As is his custom in each regional forum, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Poe called for putting aside ideological discussions and moving forward with trade agreements that improve the quality of life of the countries in the region.
“Isn’t it time to open up these relations and for CELAC to promote a free trade area between our countries? From Mexico to southern South America. Can’t we move forward in that sense?”, centre-right Uruguay Raised the President of “Many of our economies are complementary. I’m sure we can make progress in that direction.”
“Let us practice implementing what we say in our speeches. For this type of platform to sustain over time, they have to generate hope and that is generated along the way of the journey,” he said.
For his part, Chilean President Gabriel Boric called on his compatriots “to establish shared responsibilities in the face of migrant flows”.
“We cannot respond individually. We have to address it together, at the regional level,” he stressed. And he “proposed to reactivate the CELAC meetings on migration during the first semester of this year , who has been paralyzed for many years.”
While Colombian President Gustavo Petro called for the strengthening of the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights. “Why is the popularly elected president in prison instead of at this table today?” he demanded.
Petro insisted that he recently invited Maduro to re-enter that system and called for a “democratic compromise in which the right and the left do not agree to physically assault their opponent when they come to power.” has to be finished off … in Latin America it happens.” There should not be a single political prisoner”.
The meeting was attended by Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel. His Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolás Maduro, has rebuffed detention requests from Argentina’s opponents because of an arrest warrant against him in the United States on drug-trafficking charges and forwarded them to his foreign minister.
The President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, did not attend either and sent representatives from his government.
Andres Manuel López Obrador, the president of Mexico—a country with great weight in the continent—did not attend the summit, claiming he had commitments but sent a message.
The Mexican president justified Maduro’s absence from the meeting because, according to what he said, “Argentina’s belligerent right had created a media show” and “provocations should be avoided.”
For the first time, 33 CELAC countries participate in the summit represented by their Presidents or envoys.
Among the leaders attending the summit are Luis Arce (Bolivia), Xiomara Castro (Honduras) and Mario Abdo Benitez (Paraguay).
Meanwhile, the government of the United States—invited to the meeting although it is not a member of CELAC—was represented by US Special Presidential Adviser Christopher J. Dodd.
The government announced that the Buenos Aires Declaration would be defined during the summit, containing 100 points of consensus and 11 special declarations, all also by consensus.
Associated Press reporters Deborah Ray, Maria Verza and Astrid Suarez contributed to this story.