On Tuesday, January 24, leaders and representatives of 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean will meet in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina for the 7th Summit of CELAC- the Community of Latin American and Caribbean states.
CELAC itself was formed in 2011 as a mechanism to further regional integration in the hemisphere. This has long been a goal for all the countries of the region following their independence after years of European colonial domination which was replaced by the region’s subjugation to the interests of their powerful neighbour to the north. To this day, there is greater trade and exchange between the individual countries of the region with the USA than with each other.
Though most of the countries comprising CELAC belong to the Organization of American States (OAS), that organization is dominated by American interests to the extent that countries in the region which do not find favour with the USA are excluded from that body. That has also been a factor propelling the formation of CELAC exclusively for Latin American and Caribbean countries.
CELAC aims at deepening cooperation between the countries and peoples of the hemisphere, especially in the fields of trade and the economy, social affairs and the environment, particularly in the age of climate change. The Argentine Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, has emphasized that the focus of the Buenos Aires Summit will be on what he termed as “peoples issues”, such as gender equality, climate change and the situation of workers in the region in light of galloping inflation and increasing poverty.
One important aspect of the meeting will be the election of the new presidency of the organization. In this, tiny St Vincent and the Grenadines will again be ambitiously attempting to stamp its imprint on wider hemispheric affairs. Having successfully achieved a non-permanent seat on the security Council of the United Nations, the smallest country to do so, SVG will again be attempting to make history by becoming the smallest nation to achieve the prestigious position of presidency of this hemispheric body.
In spite of the obvious manifestations of increased outreach and influence stemming from the Security Council membership, there are still some among us who are not convinced of the value of such prestigious positions. Being elected to such positions of influence, is an indication of the respect in which a country is held. In addition, it is not merely being elected but how one functions in that capacity and utilizes the opportunities offered.
The very size and economic importance of CELAC itself, a land area seven times the size of India, a combined population of over 600 million people and a gross Domestic Product of more than US$3 trillion ($ 3,000, 000 000,000) underlines the importance of the region which our humble country seeks to head.
We wish our country every success in its bold effort.