Leaders of Latin American and Caribbean nations worked on Saturday to finalize an action plan for a new Americas bloc, which excludes the US and which, according to its organizers, is designed to usher in a new era of Latin American “independence.”
Led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the leaders gathered on Friday at a military fort for the two-day meeting to forge the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), an alliance of 33 countries that also excludes Canada.
“We are laying down here a cornerstone of our future unity, independence and development,” Chavez said in his welcoming address.
More than 10,000 security forces are ensuring safety of the summiteers in Caracas, one of the region’s most dangerous cities.
“For the first time, we will have an organization for our America. And if it works, if it’s successful, it can be considered the biggest event in our 200 years of semi-independence,” Cuban President Raul Castro said.
CELAC should be a “political union to build a large power center of the 21st century,” the Venezuelan president said on the eve of the summit, pointing to strong regional growth, with many countries developing closer ties with Asia or Europe and reducing their traditional reliance on the US.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a strong Chavez ally, said the birth of the new group represented a “death sentence for the Monroe Doctrine,” referring to the 1823 declaration by then-US president James Monroe which helped establish US power in the region.
In Washington, US Department of State spokesman Mark Toner said the US would obviously continue “to work through the OAS as the pre-eminent multilateral organization, speaking for the hemisphere.”
However, another Department of State spokesman, William Ostick, said the new organization could be a partner for Washington as well.
“Subregional groupings are potentially important representatives of the hemisphere and can be useful partners for the United States,” he said.
On Thursday, foreign ministers adopted a democracy clause in CELAC bylaws, although there was no consensus on how the group would conduct its decisionmaking.
“It provides that if a country violates a democratic order, we would open consultations and the country could be suspended” from CELAC, said Antonio Jose Ferreira Simoes, Brazil’s vice minister for South America, Central America and the Caribbean, adding that Brazil favored a decisionmaking process based on consensus.
The foreign ministers also approved statements on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, nuclear weapons, food security and terror, according to Simoes.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies