January 25, 2017
Ten presidents and two first ministers of the 33 member countries attended the fifth Summit of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC) took place in the tourist area of Bávaro, in the eastern side of the Dominican Republic. This is the fifth CELAC summit and was focused on how to enhance regional integration while bracing for the waves of protectionist and anti migration policies coming from Donald Trump.
“The solution (to migration) are not walls or frontiers; it is solidarity, humanity and creating well-being and peaceful conditions” Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa said in a speech during the plenary session of the Summit.
The leader called on his counterparts of the region to “assume a clear position in defense of migrants, not just in Latin America and the Caribbean but of the world all over”.
The Wednesday reunion took place at the same time the new American president was ordering the construction of a comprehensive wall on the border with Mexico to control immigration and the building of new detention centers for unauthorized immigrants.
Amongst the agreed upon themes for the agenda, there is the need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the U.S. on Cuba, and other matters related to food safety, migration and development and the world wide epidemic of drugs.
Also there were points on nuclear disarmament, gender, women movements, development of funding sources, the return of Guantanamo to Cuba and the rights of indigenous people.
The Summit began with a moment of silence in homage to the leader of Cuba’s Revolution, Fidel Castro.
Castro was one of the principal antagonists for the development of community during his whole life. He was a firm believer of the dream of a united region in the path to progress, affirmed Danilo Medina, president of the Dominican Republic, at the beginning of the meeting.
The Dominican leader highlighted the potential of the political mechanisms for a integration of all the nations of the continent with the exception of the U.S. and Canada.
“If we talk about economic growth, the bloc is an optimal space to cooperate in, facilitating trade and productive chains that could create millions of jobs in our region”, he said.
Furthermore, he mentioned the organization existence gave possibilities to protect people in the region from the effects of climate change and natural disasters, stimulate food safety, fight against inequality and promote education.
“It is here, in this people’s alliance, in this brotherly community, where we must find the ideas, the paths, the actions and the political will to make the historic destiny of Latin American and the Caribbean a reality”.
The Chilean chancellor Heraldo Muñoz informed the media that during the first plenary meeting, that was held behind closed doors, that there was “an attitude against protectionism, and opposition to the border closure”.
Without mentioning Trump by name or any of his policies, Muñoz detailed that “there is an agreement in Latin America and the Caribbean that favors a point of view that favors integration, and supports the opening of advancements in the matters of free trade some that have been achieved”.
CELAC´s fifth Summit, concluded on Wednesday night with the signature of the Punta Cana Declaration by the regional leaders, that without mentioning Trump or any particular nation, rejects the criminalization of immigration.
“Latin America should unite as never before against foreign threats”, Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro said to journalists after his arrival to the hotel. The president avoided talking specifically about Donald Trump´s commercial and migratory plans.
Dominican President Danilo Medina raised in his opening speech on Tuesday night his concern about the possibility that “this growing speech of protectionism and frontier closure does not only apply on the economic sphere, but it could also have big consequences on our migrant population”.
Besides ordering the frontier wall construction, Trump also announced in the last days the he will renegotiate the terms of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and that his country will leave the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) where Chile, Perú and México are members.
“If Europe, China and the U.S. adopt the tariff retaliation, that in the past only worked to generate poverty, the whole world would end engulfed squalor and misery”, added Medina.
Chilean chancellor clarified that CELAC had not dwelled too much about the future of TPPA because it only affects 3 countries of the region.
Besides Medina, Correa and Maduro, also present were the presidents of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, El Salvador, Guyana, Haiti and Nicaragua, and the prime ministers of Antigua y Barbuda and Jamaica and chancellors or representatives of the rest of the 33 countries.
At the end of this meeting, El Salvador’s president, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, will assume the rotating presidency of the Community.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, who has participated in all 5 of the summits of CELAC, told the meeting, “We must thrust the new complementary, not competitive, social-economic community models that strengthens the productive bases of our economies”.
He reminded all that Bolivia has been applying since 2006 a successful social, economic, community focused productive model, and the Bolivian economy has remained stable since then, reaching great achievements, like diminishing poverty and inequality.
The Bolivian president asked for the cancellation of all the free trade agreements that violates the country’s sovereignty and which harms people economies.
A highlight of Morales’s speech was when he said, “I made a call to the president of the United States to promote a respectful migratory policy pertaining to Human Rights, and help to establish a universal citizenship”,
Morales reminded Trump in the call of the thirteenth article of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” of 1948 that established that, “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
According to media outlets just hours before Trump had signed executive orders to build a wall on the Mexican border and to expel all immigrants with criminal records.
Speaking next Cuban President Raul Castro reiterated, “It has never been more necessary to march effectively along the path of unity, recognizing that we have many common interests. Working for “unity in our diversity is an urgent need”.
To achieve this a strict adherence to the Proclamation of Latin America and the concept that the Caribbean is a Zone of Peace, signed by the Heads of State and Governments in Havana in January 2014, is required. “We committed ourselves “to strict compliance with an obligation to stand against intervention, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other State, to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner, and to fully respect the inalienable right of every State to choose its own political, economic, social and cultural system”.
Read Raul Castro’s entire CELAC talk:
During his intervention Ecuadorian leader Rafael Correa highlighted the importance of an autonomous productive architecture.
“The solution to stopping migration is not the construction of walls and frontiers, but through solidarity, humanity and the creation of peaceful solutions for all of earth’s inhabitants”,
He also regretted that “Latin America´s great inequalities have created fictional democracies where sovereignty lies in capital and not in the people“. Correa emphasized that CELAC members should commit to “a democracy where meritocracy and equal opportunities are essential values“.
At the end, the leader pointed out the aggressions against former progressive presidents, like Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and Cristina Fernández in Argentina, and assured that although Latin America has experienced some step backs, “it shall never return to the past and CELAC is the best example that time is changing in our favor.”
The Venezuelan leader, Nicolás Maduro, called on the unity of Latin America and thanked the support offered by the 33 countries members of the CELAC against the renewal of the interventionist decree signed by former president Barack Obama against Venezuela as an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to U.S. security.
Maduro said he considers CELAC as a “mechanism of mutual union and thrust that has joined South America, the Caribbean and Central America” and he added: “We are building the new consensus of our America”.
“Venezuela has put itself at the service of the populations to create a new union, necessary to face economic, social and political changes that the 21st century world is living in”.
At last he proposed establishing “a permanent consultation network that takes brings the CELAC to discuss the vital themes of the continent, like economy and migration”.
Source: Resumen Latinoamericano