CELAC members meet in Costa Rica to discuss reducing poverty, Cuba

World Today

Twenty-six leaders of the Western Hemisphere met in Costa Rica for the third meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, also known as CELAC. The main topic of discussion was helping the poor. CCTV America’s Nitza Soledad Perez reported this story from San Jose, Costa Rica.

CELAC members meet in Costa Rica to discuss reducing poverty, Cuba

Twenty-six leaders of the Western Hemisphere met in Costa Rica for the third meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, also known as CELAC. The main topic of discussion was helping the poor. CCTV America's Nitza Soledad Perez reported this story from San Jose, Costa Rica.

Nitza Soledad Perez on Twitter @NitzaSoledad

While they were meeting to discuss poverty reduction, economic development and Cuban President Raul Castro’s first appearance in the international arena after announcing renewed ties with the United States, were highlights of this third gathering of the 33 CELAC (link in Spanish) members.

“The president of the United States recognized their policy failure towards Cuba. This was also possible thanks to the new era of cooperation experiencing our region,” Castro said.

Leaders also discussed formalizing CELAC as a regional organization and continue its expansion.

“We have strengthened the multilateral dimension of CELAC. It is evidenced by the launching of the CELAC-China forum, and it will continue with the forum that will also be established with the European Union and other global actors,” Luis Guillermo Soils, president of Costa Rica and CELAC host said.

Created in December of 2011, CELAC was born as part of an initiative by former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, in an effort to consolidate the region and limit the United States’s influence on politics and economics in the hemisphere.

“They are trying basically to put the basis for economic development in the region — but economic development without taking into account what has been the predominant countries in the region: The U.S. and Canada.” Jose Miguel Cruz, director of research at the Latin American and Caribbean Center said.

Reducing poverty will be a challenge in the region with a lethargic 1.3 percent economic growth forecast, partly driven by Venezuela’s 7 percent economic contraction this year.

Since the U.S. is not a summit participant, China is filling the vacuum by investing $250 billion in Latin America over the next ten years.

“Many of the infrastructure projects that we have come as a result of the financing we have received from China,” Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said.

Despite the disappointing economic numbers, there is a festive air here since the U.S. and Cuba announced the restoration of diplomatic ties. Since its inception, CELAC has strongly supported an end to the embargo.


Eric Farnsworth of Council of the Americas discusses CELAC summit

CCTV America interviewed Eric Farnsworth, vice president for the Americas Society / Council of the Americas, about the importance of the CELAC summit.

Eric Farnsworth of Council of the Americas discusses CELAC summit

CCTV America interviewed Eric Farnsworth, vice president for the Americas Society / Council of the Americas, about the importance of the CELAC summit.