News / Americas

Latin Americans Pledge to Respect Cuba's Form of Government

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera (L) and his Peruvian counterpart Ollanta Humala shake hands during a joint news conference at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit in Havana, Jan. 29, 2014.
Chile's President Sebastian Pinera (L) and his Peruvian counterpart Ollanta Humala shake hands during a joint news conference at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit in Havana, Jan. 29, 2014.
Reuters
Latin American leaders backed the right of all countries in the region to choose their own political systems on Wednesday, a victory for Cuba as the only one-party state in the western hemisphere.

Cuba is hosting a summit of 33 countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean states (CELAC), which agreed in a declaration to “fully respect the inalienable right of every state to choose its political system.”

Criticizing U.S. antagonism toward Cuba as a Cold War anachronism, the heads of state and government agreed “not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other state and to observe the principles of national sovereignty.”

CELAC, which excludes the United States and Canada, was the brainchild of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and created as a counterweight to the Organization of American States (OAS), which has its headquarters in Washington.

The CELAC resolution goes against the OAS charter, which expressly requires members to uphold a “pluralistic system of political parties and organizations” and hold free elections.

Cuba bans all parties but the Communist Party, which plays a central role in choosing which candidates can run in its elections for the national legislature. The elected legislators then select who governs on the Council of State.

The OAS expelled Cuba in 1962 for being communist, and though OAS foreign ministers voted to reinstate Cuba in 2009, Havana has declined to rejoin the organization.

The OAS also suspended Honduras after a 2009 coup removed the president from office under the charter's provisions against “unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order.” Honduras was readmitted in 2011 after a new, elected government came to power.

Integration and equality

As the two-day summit came to close on Wednesday, leaders called for greater regional economic integration and resolving its historic economic inequality.

The region has produced the world's richest person - Mexico's Carlos Slim, according to Forbes - yet 164 million live in poverty, representing 28 percent of the population. Of those, 68 million live in extreme poverty, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Even though poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean has fallen 15.7 percentage points since 2002 and extreme poverty 8.0 points in that time, the rate of improvement is slowing, the December report said.

“Latin America has made many important advances, but the road ahead is very difficult,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said during his turn to address the summit. “But if we unite our efforts, we will be much more effective.”

The summit also declared the region a “zone of peace” in which neighbors would resolve their disputes without weapons. Santos took advantage of the agreement to note advances made in his government's peace talks with leftist FARC rebels, and thanked Cuba for hosting the talks.

The summit also produced an agreement to create a trade forum between the 33 counties and China, the largest buyer of commodities in Latin America and a rising regional investor.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

New Brazil Poll Shows Silva Beating Rousseff in Runoff

Outcome seemed unimaginable just a few weeks ago; would put an end to 12 years of Workers' Party rule
More

Argentina Desires Deal Grouping All Holdout Investors Together

A deal is now not seen likely before next year's October presidential election, in which Fernandez cannot run
More

Hurricane Cristobal Kills Four, Moves Toward Bermuda

Storm is not expected to threaten US, but could cause deadly surf and rip currents from Florida to North Carolina
More

Peru's Congress Narrowly OKs Humala's New Cabinet on 3rd Vote

Lawmakers ratify president's embattled cabinet after ruling party offers to suspend rule requiring independent workers to pay into a pension program
More

Brazil's Deadly Prison Riot Ends

Officials say two inmates were beheaded during the Cascavel riot; two others were thrown to their deaths from the roof, and police are investigating how a fifth inmate died
More

Amid Slowdown, Chileans Adjust to New Economic Reality

Most economists now predict overall growth in country's economy of between 2.0 and 2.5 percent this year, down from 4.1 percent in 2013
More