Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Spanish: Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños, CELAC; Portuguese: Comunidade de Estados Latino-Americanos e Caribenhos; French: Communauté des États latino-américains et caribéens; Dutch: Gemeenschap van Latijns-Amerikaanse en Caraïbische Staten) is a regional bloc of Latin American and Caribbean states thought out on February 23, 2010, at the Rio Group–Caribbean Community Unity Summit, and created on December 3, 2011, in Caracas, Venezuela, with the signature of The Declaration of Caracas. It consists of 33 sovereign countries in the Americas representing roughly 600 million people. Due to the focus of the organization on Latin American and Caribbean countries, other countries and territories in the Americas, Canada and the United States, as well as the overseas territories in the Americas of France (Overseas departments and territories of France), the Netherlands (Dutch Caribbean), Denmark (Greenland) and the United Kingdom (British Overseas Territories) are not included.
CELAC is an example of a decade-long push for deeper integration within Latin America. CELAC was created to deepen Latin American integration and by some to reduce the significant influence of the United States on the politics and economics of Latin America. It is seen as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS), the regional body that was founded by United States and 21 other Latin American nations originally as a countermeasure to potential Soviet influence in the region.
CELAC is the successor of the Rio Group and the Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC). In July 2010, CELAC selected President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez and President of Chile Sebastián Piñera, as co-chairs of the forum to draft statutes for the organization.
CELAC comprises 33 countries, speaking five different languages:
Eighteen Spanish-speaking countries (56% of the area, 63% of the population)
One Portuguese-speaking country (42% of the area, 34% of the population)
One French-speaking country (0.1% of the area, 1.6% of the population)
Twelve English-speaking countries (1.3% of the area, 1.1% of the population)
One Dutch-speaking country (0.8% of the area, 0.1% of the population)
Twelve countries are in South America, which accounts for 87% of the area and 68% of the population.
On February 23, 2010, Latin American leaders at the 23rd Rio Group summit in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico, said they were forming an organisation of the Latin American and Caribbean states. Once its charter was developed, the group was formally established in July 2011, at a summit in Caracas. The bloc will be the main forum for political dialogue for the area, without the United States or Canada.
Prominent left-wing leaders in the bloc praised the founding of the organization as a step towards separating Latin America from the United States with Evo Morales, President of Bolivia saying “A union of Latin American countries is the weapon against imperialism. It is necessary to create a regional body that excludes the United States and Canada. … it is the best time for prime ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean to gestate this great new organization without the United States to free our peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Hugo Chávez, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Rafael Correa were among the other prominent left-wing leaders who praised the creation of CELAC 
Raúl Zibechi, writing for Mexico’s center-left La Jornada newspaper said, “The creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is part of a global and continental shift, characterized by the decline of U.S. hegemony and the rise of a group of regional blocs that form part of the new global balance.”
An editorial in Brazil’s conservative Estadão newspaper said, “CELAC reflects the disorientation of the region’s governments in relation to its problematic environment and its lack of foreign policy direction, locked as it is into the illusion that snubbing the United States will do for Latin American integration what 200 years of history failed to do.”
As the first summit was underway in December 2011 United States President Barack Obama’s senior adviser on Latin America, Daniel Restrepo, informed reporters from Miami that the U.S. government would “watch and see what direction CELAC takes”.
|Summit||Year||Host country||Host city|
|III||January 28–29, 2015||Costa Rica||Belén, Heredia|
|IV||January 27, 2016||Ecuador||Quito|
|V||January 24–25, 2017||Dominican Republic||Punta Cana|
CELAC’s inaugural summit was due to be held in mid-2011, but was postponed because of the ill-health of Hugo Chávez, president of the host nation, Venezuela. The summit was instead held on December 2 and 3, 2011 in Caracas. It primarily focused on the global economic crisis and its effects on the region. Several leaders, including presidents Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Dilma Rousseff and Juan Manuel Santos, encouraged an increase in regional trade, economic development, and further economic cooperation among members in order to defend their growing economies.
Chavez, and other leaders such as Rafael Correa and Daniel Ortega, expressed hope that the bloc would work to further Latin American integration, end U.S. hegemony and consolidate control over regional affairs. Chavez, citing the Monroe Doctrine as the original confirmation of U.S. interference in the region, openly called for CELAC to replace the OAS: “As the years go by, CELAC is going to leave behind the old and worn-out OAS.” Correa called for a new human rights commission to replace the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Other leaders argued that the organisation should be used as a tool to resolve regional disagreements and uphold democratic values, but not as a replacement of the OAS. Santos stated that he would like to see dialogue within the group over whether existing counter-drug regulations should be revised. The president of the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino) said he expects that Parlatino will become the main legislative institution of CELAC. Amongst the key issues on the agenda were the creation of a “new financial architecture,” sanction for maintaining the legal status of coca in Bolivia and the rejection of the Cuban embargo by the U.S.
2013 Summit – Chile
The EU-LAC chose CELAC to be the main organization representative of the relationship between European and Latin American and Caribbean countries. Therefore, the EU-LAC is now called the EU-CELAC.
2014 Summit – Cuba
During the summit, the region was declared a “peace zone”. After three days and with the approval of participating representatives, a document with 83 focus points was created. It emphasized that, despite cultural and regional differences, unity between the participating countries is necessary in order to create progress. “Unity and the integration of our region must be gradually constructed, with flexibility, with respect to differences, diversity, and the sovereign right of each of our countries to choose our own forms of political and economic organization” stated the document. It also states which countries have been developing the best and how they are doing it in order for them to be a model for other countries.
The issue of poverty was widely discussed. Cuba’s Raul Castro pointing out that throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, people want a fairer distribution of wealth, access to affordable education, employment, better salaries, and the eradication of illiteracy. He argued that CELAC countries can work together, support each other, to create new plans and solutions for these problems.
2015 Summit – Costa Rica
Countries discussed plans to eradicate hunger by 2025. Venezuela would host a follow up meeting in late 2015 to review the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organizations plan for their region. They called for the U.S to stop meddling in regional affairs, for Puerto Rico to be able to participate in future summits, and for the embargo against Cuba to be lifted. Statements in support of Cuba and Venezuela were widely heard. CELAC rejected U.S. sanctions against Venezuela. It was decided that a monument would be built in memory of victims of the slave trade. Member countries also supported Argentina’s right to the Falkland Islands and peace negotiations in Colombia.
The following table shows various data for CELAC member states, including area, population, economic output and income inequality, as well as various composite indices, including human development, viability of the state, rule of law, perception of corruption, economic freedom, state of peace, freedom of the press and democratic level.
|Antigua and Barbuda||440||91,818||2,117,532,266||23,062||N/A||0.786||56.2||0.67||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||260||55,572||1,394,199,261||25,088||N/A||0.765||N/A||0.66||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||390||109,462||1,219,366,997||11,140||N/A||0.722||N/A||0.61||60||65.2||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Trinidad and Tobago||5,130||1,360,088||45,302,518,908||33,309||40.27||0.780||57.8||0.57||35||61.2||2.056||23.29||7.10|
|Note: The colors indicate the country’s global position in the respective indicator. For example, a green cell indicates that the country is ranked in the upper 25% of the list (including all countries with available data).|
|Highest quartile||Upper-mid (3rd quartile)||Lower-mid (2nd quartile)||Lowest quartile|
- Union of South American Nations
- Caribbean Community
- Association of Caribbean States
- Latin American Integration Association
- United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
- List of regional organizations by population
- Non-Aligned Movement
- Group of 77
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However, at present much of the integration occurs at the governmental, political and policy level as opposed to the personal, individual level, hence Tutor Jamal Henry added his voice to the plea by the Ambassador to have more persons embracing the culture and learning Spanish. CELAC comprises 33 nations making up an estimated population of 600 million people with five official languages. United and integrated the countries of CELAC can be powerful, “together [the 33 nations of CELAC] are the number one food exporter on the planet,” further commented Ambassador Febres.
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- V Cumbre CELAC teleSUR. January 23, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
- Comienza hoy en República Dominicana la V Cumbre de la CELAC teleSUR. January 24, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
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- CELAC Parlament (in Spanish)