Cuba assumes LatAm group presidency in diplomatic coup

Cuba formally assumed the presidency of a key Latin American group here Monday, scoring a major diplomatic coup at a summit at which it urged regional integration and independence from the United States.

Cuban President Raul, whose island nation is still languishing under a crippling 50-year-old US trade embargo, hailed the move as "a great honor" and "recognition of the determined struggle of our people for independence".

The Cuban chairmanship of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) marked Havana's full regional reintegration and was seen as a major diplomatic coup for Castro.

Set up in Caracas in December 2011 at the behest of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, CELAC groups all nations from across the Americas except the United States and Canada.

Castro described the grouping of "33 independent nations as a space of regional sovereignty to promote integration, dialogue, cooperation and solidarity".

"We will reject interference, aggression, threats and the use of force," he said as he took over the CELA chairmanship from his Chilean counterpart Sebastian Pinera shortly before the 24-hour summit closed.

Several CELAC leaders hailed the Cuban presidency.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner on Sunday said it was a sign of the "changing times".

Her US-backed Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos on Monday described it as a "very significant political development with special symbolism".

"We are building the ideal of a diverse Latin American and Caribbean region united in a common space of political independence and sovereignty over our enormous natural resources to advance toward sustainable development, regional integration," the 81-year-old Cuban leader told the summit.

Chavez, who is undergoing cancer treatment in Havana and has not been seen in public for weeks, meanwhile sent a message of support to his Cuban ally to the summit.

"Latin America and the Caribbean are telling the United States with a single voice that all attempts to isolate Cuba have failed and will fail," the leftist firebrand said in a message read out by his vice president Nicolas Maduro.

Chavez called it "an act of justice after more than 50 years of resistance to the criminal imperial embargo."

Castro also seized the occasion to warn the region that "transnational corporations, basically Americans, will not renounce their control over strategic energy, water and mineral resources nearing depletion."

In another dig at Washington, he said "our community will not be complete without Puerto Rico, a truly Latin American and Caribbean sister nation submitted to (US) colonial domination." Puerto Rico is a self-governing US possession.

And he expressed gratitude for the region's support for Argentine sovereignty over the British-ruled Falklands and its opposition to the US trade embargo on Cuba.

Meanwhile the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza of Chile, said CELAC was not a "threat" to the OAS -- which includes the United States and Canada -- but rather a "useful component".

"They are two distinct (organizations) and not meant to compete with each other," he said. "The OAS has a hemispheric role, includes also countries of North America, which make up a third of the population of the region."

The OAS kicked out communist-ruled Cuba in 1962 at the height of the Cold War. The expulsion was rescinded in 2009, but Cuba has refused to return.

Insulza stressed that he could not question CELAC's decision to hand its chairmanship to Cuba.

"It is not my organization. I have always believed that the inclusion of Cuba and cooperation with Cuba are better than exclusion and isolation, to promote democracy," he noted.

In a balancing act agreed in Caracas When CELAC was created, Cuba assumes the presidency for the first year of a two year period and Costa Rica the second.

Earlier Monday, Pinera paid tribute to Chavez, but also to former presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Felipe Calderon of Mexico "for their vision and leadership" in helping create CELAC.

Sunday, CELAC leaders opened their summit focused on forging greater regional integration, immediately after wrapping up talks with their counterparts from the European Union.

In closing remarks at the EU-CELAC meeting, the seventh for the two blocs, European Council President Herman van Rompuy said the "discussions have given new energy and momentum to our strategic partnership."

And Pinera lauded a "new strategic alliance" with the EU "to promote growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life" for citizens.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Get SAF 44 killers before BBL passage’
    ‘Get SAF 44 killers before BBL passage’

    Lawmakers are demanding the arrest of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters involved in the killing of 44 policemen in Mamasapano before the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-member ad hoc committee in the House of Representatives deliberating on the BBL, prodded the Department of Justice (DOJ) to speed up its investigation and file charges against the MILF guerrillas as the Aquino administration …

  • Pinoys dance for Earth Hour
    Pinoys dance for Earth Hour

    The Philippines once again displayed its support Saturday night for the worldwide observance of Earth Hour by hosting a dance party after turning the lights off from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. to save energy and make a statement on various environmental issues. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said widespread participation proved anew that no individual action on climate change is too small and that no collective vision is too big with celebrations in over 7,000 hubs in 170 countries. The WWF said …

  • Phl offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China
    Phl offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China

    The Philippines has offered to downgrade its claim on Sabah in exchange for Malaysia’s support for its case against China before the United Nations. The quid pro quo was contained in a note verbale the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) handed to a representative of the Malaysian embassy last week, a week after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Dato  Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein. The note verbale, a copy of which was obtained by VERA Files, referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission …

  • Maysak to enter Phl Wednesday
    Maysak to enter Phl Wednesday

    A typhoon with international name Maysak is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on Wednesday and bring rains over Northern Luzon by weekend, the state weather bureau said yesterday. Aldczar Aurelio, weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said the typhoon was 2,810 kilometers east of Mindanao as of 10 a.m. yesterday. “This typhoon is still too far to affect any part of the country,” the weather …

  • Nonviolent disciplining of kids pushed

    Child rights advocates called on senators to pass and strongly endorse a law that will institutionalize positive and nonviolent methods of disciplining children.The Child Rights Network (CRN), Plan International Philippines (PIP), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLPCD), and Lihok Pilipinas Foundation led the call for the enactment of the Positive Discipline Bill.Several Quezon City Council members led by Majority Floor Leader Jesus Manuel Suntay, Victor Ferrer …

  • Method to their madness

    [caption id="attachment_256768" align="alignright" width="212"] Illustration by Rod Cañalita[/caption] EMMANUEL PORTUGAL Country Manager for the Philippines, VMware I look after the garden. I’d like to think that I have a green thumb—no plants have died so far! The ones I like now that I planted a few months ago is the Blue Iris. Like the town in the movie, my Blue Iris shows up in the morning and only appears for one day. …

  • JGFP Summer Tour on today

    The summer tour for local junior golfers kicks off with the holding of the ICTSI-JGFP Baguio Junior Open today and tomorrow at the treacherous Baguio Country Club course in Baguio.Sixty players aged 6 to 17 years old are entered in the 36-hole tourney serving as the opening leg of the summer circuit organized by the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines with the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. Foundation as main sponsor. ... …

  • PH now market ready to absorb infra bonds

    The Philippine market is now ready to absorb infrastructure bonds that will be issued by private companies amid a growing pipeline of infra-related projects under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. President Benigno Aquino III last week said the government is still committed to spend more on the country’s infrastructure, with 16 PPP projects currently on the pipeline and nine that have already been awarded. Over the years, some of the country’s biggest infrastructure …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options