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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US Ambassador Calls for LGBT Rights

John Berry spoke at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne
More

China's Xi Praises Close Ties with Cuba

Head of China's Communist Party hails common socialist bond between his country and Cuba as he kicks off a state visit in Havana
More

US Judge Orders Argentina, Creditors to Reach Deal

Lawyers for investors who declined to restructure bonds after country defaulted on about $100B in 2002 warned that time running out to reach a deal, avert fresh default
More

Trial Imminent for Detained Venezuelan Protest Leader Lopez

Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, says outside pressure needed on Venezuelan president to move case forward
More

Sex Workers Seek HIV Prevention

The Lancet publishes new series on HIV
More

Texas Gov. Perry Orders State National Guard to Border

Governor says he took extraordinary measure to help secure the border, his critics say it is a political stunt
More