Latin America launches new bloc excluding U.S., Canada

Latin America launches new bloc excluding U.S., Canada
# 25 February 2010 00:41 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Latin American and Caribbean countries on Tuesday agreed to launch a new regional group excluding the United States and Canada, APA reports quoting web-page.
The new bloc, seen as an alternative to the U.S.-weighted Organization of American States (OAS), is intended to weaken U.S. influence in the region.
It also reflected the common wishes of the Latin American and Caribbean nations of seeking a louder voice and greater role on the global stage.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who proposed the new group, said that the provisional name for the body would be the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
"We have decided to create an organization CELC that includes all the organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean," Calderon said at the closing ceremony of the Group of Rio summit in Cancun.
He said the group decided to base the organization on shared values, including sovereignty and the non-use of force, international cooperation, ever closer integration of Latin America and the Caribbean and permanent political dialogue.
The new organization will help promote the process of regional integration, defend democracy and human rights, and foster cooperation among Latin American and Caribbean countries, the Mexican president said.
The next meeting of the organization will be in Venezuela next year. The normal functions of the Group of Rio and the Latin American and Caribbean Congress will continue until the new organization’s institutions are completely formed, Calderon said.
Cuban leader Raul Castro said that he was pleased to see the founding of an organization that brings together the 33 independent nations belonging to both groupings.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expressed support for the new bloc, citing it as a move away from U.S. "colonizing" of the region.
Bolivian President Evo Morales said the event "is important to free all Latin America and the Caribbean from the United States."
However, the leaders disagreed on whether the bloc should replace the Washington-based OAS, the largest diplomatic bloc in Western Hemisphere.
Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela suggested the new bloc should replace the OAS, which has been criticized as promoting U.S. interests over those of other members, but Chile voiced opposition.
"It’s very important that we don’t try to replace the OAS," said Chilean President-elect Sebastian Pinera. "The OAS is a permanent organization that has its own functions."
The left-wing governments in Latin America such as Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, have always believed the OAS could not truly represent the Latin American countries as it was under the control of the United States.
They considered that the OAS has not made much tangible achievements when it comes to solving regional issues.