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

Photogallery Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had earlier warned storm could be one of worst the city has ever faced More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Twin Chicago Traffickers-Turned-Informants Sentenced

Pedro and Margarito Flores get 14-year terms in exchange for cooperating in a case against Mexican drug cartel leaders
More

Chile's Bachelet Prepares Next Phase of Education Reform

After eight months of intense debate, Lower House approves first part of multi-pronged reform, which includes end to profits at state-subsidized schools
More

Fidel Castro Appears to Lend Support to Cuba Talks with US

Castro said his long-standing hostility to the US did not mean 'rejection of a peaceful solution'
More

Argentine President Plans to Dissolve Spy Agency

Suspicions abound that rogue agents were behind the mysterious death of a state prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center
More

Peru's Congress Repeals Labor Reform Law

Move comes after thousands took to the streets to protest legislation that cut benefits for young workers, part of reforms aimed at reviving the economy
More

Miss Colombia Takes Miss Universe Crown

Paulina Vega is the first contestant from Colombia to win since 1958
More