Celac Summit 2024

“The planet wants peace”

gl. Virtually ignored by the Western media, the eighth annual summit of the Celac states took place at the beginning of March in Kingston, the capital of the Caribbean island state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Members of Celac, i.e. the community of Latin American and Caribbean states, are all 33 states of the two Americas, with the exception of the USA and Canada.
  Delegates from 33 countries attended this year’s summit, including Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Colombian President Gustavo Petro, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena, as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In his speech, Guterres emphasised that “Latin America and the Caribbean have shown that an agreement for peace is possible and that this makes a difference”. He thus recognised the joint declaration for dialogue and peace between Guyana and Venezuela, which was signed by mediation of Brazilian President Lula and the Celac. The two countries are at loggerheads over the oil-rich border region of Esequibo, which almost led to an armed conflict last December. Venezuelan President Maduro and his Guyanese counterpart Irfaan Ali agreed to refrain from violence and the increase of tensions.
  Since it was founded in 2011, the Celac has advocated the integration of the entire Latin America as a common space that rejects all foreign interventions. The Celac summit is considered a central place for meetings and exchanges, but also as place for the debate between the entire region, regardless of the political stance of the governments. The strong ideological tensions between neoliberal governments and those oriented towards the global South were shown this year by the fact that various heads of government, such as Javier Milei from Argentina, Daniel Noboa from Ecuador and Nayib Bukele from El Salvador did not attend the summit. Daniel Kerssfeld from the Argentinian daily newspaper “Pagina/12” nevertheless rates the summit positively, as Celac had gained political coherence.
  As usual, global problems, the defence of sovereignty and the right to self-determination of peoples were also important topics. Xiomara Castro, this year’s President of Honduras, who is assuming the pro tempore presidency of the Celac, joined the call for peace in the region. She rejected any interference by foreign powers in the 33 states of the Celac, alluding to the USA. Nor should any people in Latin America or the Caribbean ever use force against a brother nation. “The differences of opinion among us must be resolved by ourselves, without interference or pressure from outside, by means of dialog and always having in mind the welfare of our region and the self-determination of our peoples.”
  Colombian President Gustavo Petro criticised the war waged by the USA against drugs and described it as a failure. The USA had focused solely on repression, prisons, police and murder instead of prevention and public health. As a result, it had failed dramatically: the drug trade had never declined. The situation in Gaza was also a topic at the Celac summit. Brazilian President Lula found clear words in his speech:
  “The humanitarian tragedy in Gaza demands from all of us the ability to say basta to the collective punishment that the Israeli government is inflicting on the Palestinian people, to say enough is enough now. People are dying in the queue for food. The indifference of the international community is a scandal. I would like to take advantage of the presence of the UN Secretary-General, my colleague Antonio Guterres, to propose to the UN a Celac motion to put an immediate end to this genocide,” said Lula. Lula suggested that Guterres invoke Article 99 of the UN Charter, which gives him the power to refer to the UN Security Council any matter that could threaten international peace and security. The South American president also called on China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States to resolve their differences and put an end to “this carnage”.
  He also called on Japan, which has assumed the rotating presidency of the Security Council, to urgently address this issue and stop the killing in the Middle East. “There have already been more than 30,000 deaths. The lives of thousands of innocent women and children are at stake. The life of Hamas hostages are also at stake. In conclusion, I would like to say to you that our dignity and humanity are at stake. That is why we must stop the slaughter in the name of the survival of humanity, which needs a lot of humanism.”
  Bolivian President Luis Arce Catacora echoed Lula’s call for an immediate ceasefire. “The planet wants peace, it wants calm, and that is what we are striving for and for which we must take all the necessary measures to pacify this part of the world,” he said. He added that a solution to the crisis must allow Palestine to “exercise its right to self-determination.”  •


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