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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

VIII CELAC Summit: The only possibility for our peoples remains unity

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is once again bringing together leaders and other government leaders from its 33 countries. The Cuban delegation is headed by the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.

Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez arrives in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and is met by Montgomery Daniel, Deputy Prime Minister


By René Tamayo León, translated from the Spanish


"CELAC is a work for everyone. Strengthening it is an urgent need and a shared duty to achieve the unity and integration of what Martí called Our America," said the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, in his speech at the last Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in January 2023.


The President heads the delegation of the Greater Antilles to the VIII CELAC Summit, which is being held on March 1 in what is the second smallest nation in the Caribbean, with about 110,000 inhabitants, but during his tenure at the head of the organization that brings together the 33 independent countries of the region, it has continued to revitalize its activism in the international arena.


Under the leadership of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will host more than a dozen heads of state and government, foreign ministers and other heads of delegations, and will hand over the pro tempore presidency of CELAC to Honduras and its president, Xiomara Castro De Zelaya.


The emergence of CELAC as a forum for proper cooperation between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, without interference from any extra-regional power, a dream that for more than 200 years was embraced by Latin American and Caribbean heroes, was finally realized with the establishment of a wave of leftist governments at the beginning of the 21st century and its entire first decade.


The foundations of the mechanism were formally laid at the First Summit of Latin America and the Caribbean on Integration and Development (CALC), held in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, in December 2008. It would be followed up in February 2010 in the Riviera Maya, Mexico, during the II CALC Summit, the Unity Summit, when it was decided to create a body that would merge the Rio Group and the CALC, and therefore the 33 independent nations of the area.


The joy of Our America would finally materialize at the Founding Summit in Caracas, Venezuela, between December 2 and 3, 2011. It was the culmination of a process driven by Lula, Chavez, Fidel, Raul and other progressive leaders.


Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, then First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, would then point out:


"We have the privilege of attending a momentous founding event. With the decisions we have taken here (...) we are reclaiming more than two centuries of struggles and hopes. Getting this far has cost us effort, but also blood and sacrifice."


"The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is our most precious work. Symbolically, it consolidates the concept of a united and sovereign region, committed to a common destiny," he said.


"In strategic terms," he added, "it provides us with the political instrument required to unite wills, respect diversity, resolve differences, cooperate for the good of our peoples and show solidarity with one another. Its success will depend on the character and wisdom of its members, who are the 33 independent nations situated between the Rio Grande and Patagonia.


"Unity around sovereignty, development and equity will be our strength, and the prosperity and justice of the citizens of this vast and rich region will depend on it. We do not have a completely homogeneous ideology, nor do we agree on all political positions. That is part of the reality and we must work with it in a climate of respect and cooperation."


"In the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States," Raul also ratified, "Cuba will work with dedication, altruism and commitment for the unity of our peoples, for a future of peace and social justice, and for the unwavering commitment to consolidate the full independence of what José Martí defined for the future as 'Our America.'"


Havana hosted the II CELAC Summit in January 2014


Hard Birth, But of Dreams and Joys


From its foundation to today, with its ups and downs and always under the sinister interference – like a hidden sword of Damocles – of the U.S. empire and the right-wing forces of the region – many of which have re-established a government in the last 13 years – CELAC summits have been held in Chile (January, 2013), Havana (January, 2014), Costa Rica (January 2015), Ecuador (January, 2016); Dominican Republic (January, 2017), Mexico (September, 2021), Argentina (January, 2023) and now the VIII will be held in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (March 1, 2024).


The challenges of the region, however, remain the same as they were then, and the same as they have been for the last 200 years.


With more than 20 million square kilometers of territory, nearly 630 million inhabitants, unparalleled wealth, raw materials of all kinds, and a more than powerful agriculture and industry, Latin America and the Caribbean is the most unequal region on the planet in terms of the distribution of wealth.


According to ECLAC's Social Panorama of Latin America and the Caribbean 2023, in 2022 "more than 180 million people in the region do not have enough income to cover their basic needs and, among them, 70 million do not have the income to purchase a basic food basket."


In the presentation of this report, the executive secretary of the United Nations entity, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, commented: "In total, almost a third of the population of the region lives in poverty, a percentage that rises to 42.5 percent in the case of the child and adolescent population, a reality that we cannot tolerate. The incidence of poverty is also higher among women, indigenous people and people living in rural areas."


Addressing the need for common action by the countries and governments of the region, at the VII CELAC Summit, Buenos Aires, President Díaz-Canel stated: "The stubborn reality will always be stronger than any attempt to divide us, because the challenges of an unjust, plundering and anti-democratic international order that prevents overcoming the alarming levels of poverty, unemployment, food insecurity and exclusion that characterize the economic and social landscape of the region continue to be shared."


"That is why it is urgent," he said, "to close ranks and project a strategic vision (...) towards economic, social and cultural integration that will allow us to move towards sustainable development."


"In the complex and challenging post-pandemic world, which globally suffers from the serious economic, political and social resonances of military conflicts and the unstoppable impacts of climate change," he added later, "the only possibility for those of us who come from a common colonial and neocolonial past is unity."



Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, an island of treasures


The archipelago of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is made up of some 33 islands and cays: Saint Vincent, Bequia, Canounan, Mustique, Mayreau, Isle D'Quatreny, Union Island. Because of the beauty of all of them and the mysteries they still contain, they are called the Jewels of the Caribbean, which inspired the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson for the adventure novel Treasure Island.


In St. Vincent there is Kingstown, the capital. A volcanic island, it covers about 90 percent of the national territory. It is 29 kilometers long and 18 km wide and is covered by densely wooded mountains of volcanic origin. The active Soufrière volcano stands out here, with an altitude of 1,234 metres.


The country's more than 110,000 inhabitants, mostly of African descent and mestizos, as well as Hindus and a few Carib Amerindians, work in agriculture, forestry, fishing and in the service sectors, including tourism.


Saint Vincent and the Grenadines achieved independence on 27 November 1979. It established diplomatic relations with Cuba on May 26, 1992. Both nations maintain a high level of political dialogue and a permanent strengthening of the ties of friendship and cooperation.


This work was translated and shared under a License CC-BY-NC

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