PM returns from successful regional summit
PRIME MINISTER Dr.Ralph Gonsalves has returned home after attending the successful 6th Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held in Mexico last weekend. CELAC represents over 650 million people living in its 33-member countries; is the third largest economic bloc in the world; has a total Gross Domestic product of over US$ 7 trillion; is the largest food producing region globally and ranks third in electricity produced.
Thirty-one of CELAC’s 33 member-countries attended the Summit exhibiting a wide range of political positions which were demonstrated in debates during the Conference and difference between countries such as Uruguay and El Salvador on one hand, and Cuba and Venezuela on the other. But under the Presidency of host nation Mexico, the importance of unity in such a strategic region was emphasised.
This was demonstrated in the fact that there was unanimous agreement on a 44-point Declaration. The need to strengthen CELAC was underlined and though there were differences on the approach towards the other major hemispheric bloc, the Organisation of American States (OAS), which includes the USA and Canada but excludes Cuba, members did not allow this to divide them. Indeed the Declaration condemned the continuing economic sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela and called for an end to these.
Naturally, given the ravages of COVID -19 throughout the region ,there was agreement on common strategies to address the health crisis , including the creation of appropriate infrastructure to produce and distribute medical supplies and vaccines, especially Cuban vaccines which were praised in the Summit.
Another major area of agreement was on climate change. This is not surprising given the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters which are worsening because of the impact of this phenomenon. The Declaration outlined that the Summit had agreed that member-nations should work out and hold a common position during the upcoming global conference on the matter to be held in November (COP 26, Glasgow, Scotland). It emphasised the need to cut emissions and prevent climate change.
Prime Minister Gonsalves addressed the Summit last Saturday, underlining the unity theme and calling for a Disaster Fund to assist countries in times of natural disasters.