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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
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 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 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 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 Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
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.

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

Chilean MPs Approve Measure Allowing Civil Unions

Bill will give many legal rights afforded to married couples to about two million more Chileans - mostly unmarried heterosexuals but also gay couples
More

Don't Meddle in Our Politics, Cuba's Leader Warns US

Fomenting opposition to Cuba's government will undermine efforts at normalizing bilateral relations, he says at summit in Costa Rica
More

Owner of Gun That Killed Argentine Prosecutor Emerges From Hiding

Diego Lagomarsino says he lent firearm for protection to Alberto Nisman, who was probing 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires Jewish community center
More

Rights Group: MPs in Dozens of Countries Face Abuse

Inter-Parliamentary Union rights committee reports more than 300 lawmakers in 40 countries subject to dangers, including death
More

Mexico Confirms Missing Students Murdered by Drug Gang

Until now, the government had said only that the students were almost certainly murdered after clashing that night with corrupt police officers
More

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