CELAC summit concludes with calls to end the US embargo on Cuba

Global Business

The third gathering of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States, or CELAC, concluded Thursday in San Jose, Costa Rica. While the meeting was meant to focus on wealth inequality — Cuba and Puerto Rico, and their relationships with the United States, were a major source of discussion at the forum. CCTV America’s Nitza Soledad Perez reported this story from San Jose.

CELAC summit concludes with calls to end the US embargo on Cuba

The third gathering of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States, or CELAC, concluded Thursday in San Jose, Costa Rica. While the meeting was meant to focus on wealth inequality -- Cuba and Puerto Rico, and their relationships with the United States, were a major source of discussion at the forum.

Cuban President Raul Castro welcomed the announcement of the restoration of diplomacy between Cuba and the U.S., but he also issued a firm statement of Cuban autonomy.

“Cuba and the United States must learn the art of civilized coexistence based on respect for the differences between the two governments. Cuba should not be expected to give up its ideals of independence and social justice,” said Castro

Most leaders of the continent spoke in support of an end to the embargo on Cuba, insisting that it is time for it to end.

“It is a crime, that what they call embargo, is a criminal persecution against Cuba, that has a right to be independent, to be free,” President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro said.

Another moment that sparked controversy during the two-day summit was the break of protocol by President Ortega of Nicaragua when he allowed Puerto Rico’s pro-independence leader, Ruben Berrios, to address the forum.

Despite these discussions, members still addressed the agenda of poverty reduction. Extreme poverty has increased 12 percent in the region, and of the 623 million inhabitants in Latin America and the Caribbean, 167 million are poor and 71 million are extremely poor, according to the United Nations.

“We need to work together to so as not to ignore the level of political and administrative corruption that is present in the region. The rise of inequality deepens the crisis of legitimacy which sees our democracy suffer,” Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet said.

The summit concluded with a political declaration and other resolutions, among the most notable were the repudiation to the U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, support for the return of the Malvinas islands to Argentina, and the decolonization of Puerto Rico.