Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves addressing the closing ceremony of CELAC VII in Argentina
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January 25, 2023
St Vincent and the Grenadines becomes first CARICOM nation to lead CELAC

St Vincent and the Grenadines has assumed presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the first CARICOM country to elected to the position.

The Eastern Caribbean nation was unanimously elected to lead the 33-nation bloc at the VII CELAC summit which ended in Argentina on Tuesday night.

The pro tempore presidency is for a term of one year and is the institutional, technical and administrative support body of the CELAC. The post, which was most recently held by Argentina, is on a rotation basis.

Addressing the closing ceremony, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Dr Ralph Gonsalves said he would rely on all CELAC’s members and organizations to help SVG in “this very important task”.

He assured the group that “things are not falling apart, the centre is holding and we are not just having passion. We have commitment and that is very important.”

Gonsalves ended his address with a verse from poet Robert Frost: “I shall be saying this ages and ages hence. Two roads diverged in the woods and I, I took the one least travelled by and that has made all the difference.”

The country was represented at the summit by Gonsalves, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Keisal Peters, SVG’s Ambassador to Venezuela Gareth Bynoe and SVG’s former Ambassador to Venezuela Andreas Wickham.

In December 2022, Gonsalves informed Vincentians of the country’s intention to seek presidency of CELAC, which he said “would be an extraordinary achievement” if it happened.

“It is a very important position for a progressive country like St Vincent and the Grenadines to aspire to, in a period with all the challenges which we are having in the world,” he stated.

CELAC is made up of 33 countries, of which 18 are Spanish-speaking, 12 English-speaking, 1 French-speaking and 1 Dutch-speaking.

The group was created on February 23, 2010 in Mexico. Subsequently, at the Caracas Summit (Venezuela) held on December 2-3 2011, the organisation was definitively constituted. The First Celac Summit was held in Chile in January 2013.

The bloc forms a political dialogue to deepen Latin American integration. CELAC is the successor of the Rio Group and the Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC).

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