The 33 members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean State (CELAC) met in Buenos Aires earlier this year to discuss important issues for the region, including the need for more action towards the climate crisis and funding to help overcome the economic distress in the region.
The event culminated in the Declaration of Buenos Aires, which documented the region’s collective resolve to continue fighting climate change and upholding both democratic institutions and human rights. The declaration also pushed for greater cooperation between the countries in healthcare, food security, and the region’s economic recovery, with CELAC calling on multinational banks to help fund Latin America’s recovery after COVID-19.
“We stressed the need for international regional financial institutions, such as the Multilateral Development Banks, to improve credit facilities through clean, fair, transparent, and accessible mechanisms,” stated the declaration.
This CELAC summit was notable for being the first to include the newly-re-elected Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who brought the country back to the summit after previous President Jair Bolsonaro had withdrawn from CELAC.
The summit also stressed the importance of the end of certain conflicts within the region, calling for the end of sanctions between Cuba and the United States as well as the peaceful resolution of the political conflict between Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and the opposition parties.
During the conference, national leaders pushed for more direct actions that would realize the rhetoric seen in this and other regional meetings, with Colombian President Gustavo Petro comparing the push for industrialization in Latin American to that of Europe.
“Concrete projects gradually led to what is now the European Union, a complex monetary union,” said Petro. “The monetary union was not possible, except from homogenizing systems of control over money and above all starting from the concrete, material projects on which that union was based in the midst of the cultural diversity of Europeans. I believe that this experience should be integrated into our own. Latin American integration has centripetal forces that take us out of our own environment and that are logical, and that must be understood.”
After the summit, Petro followed up with a statement praising the success of the meeting between the leaders and highlighting the cooperation between the region’s leaders and the resolution towards climate change.
“Recognizing that there is a potential in Latin America that could help in an important and not marginal way in solving the climate crisis and, from there, building a common policy that gives us more strength in world geopolitics, seems fundamental to me,” he said. “While the United States is the great platform for greenhouse gas emissions in the north, we have the main sponge — the forests — especially the Amazon. A negotiating point, a negotiating letter, in quotes, because in the end, life in humanity is not for negotiating, but for a real contribution to the world’s discussions to revitalize the Amazon jungle.”
He also emphasized the continued need for togetherness in the Latin American regions that is made possible by summits and meetings like CELAC, allowing them to consolidate and work on regional problems together instead of as individual countries.
“During these decades, Latin America has become increasingly marginalized…Its voice has been reduced on the world’s stages, especially when he has not unified that voice,” said Petro. “So the power — the magnitude and the power — of the Latin American voice, obviously together, in the world, depends on our ability to provide solutions to the main problem of humanity.”