The process of Latin American unity and integration (see “The rise of ALBA” 3/11/2014 and “Latin American unity and integration” 3/12/2014) culminated in the formation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC for its initials in Spanish) in 2010, consisting of the governments of the 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean. On January 29, 2014, at its Second Summit held in Havana, CELAC issued a declaration, affirming its fundamental goals, concepts, and values. (The Summit in Cuba is actually the third, taking into account the “Founding Summit’ in Venezuela in 2011 and the “First Summit” in Chile in January, 2013).
The Declaration of Havana affirms the commitment of the 33 governments to continue the process of Latin American integration, to expand intraregional commerce, and to develop the infrastructure necessary for expanding integration. It affirms a form of integration based on complementariness, solidarity, and cooperation. It promotes “a vision of integral and inclusive development that ensures sustainable and productive development, in harmony with nature.”
The Declaration endorses the protection of the social and economic rights of all. It affirms food and nutritional security, literacy, free universal education, universal public health, and the right to adequate housing. It advocates giving priority to “persons living in extreme poverty and vulnerable sectors such as the indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, women, children, the disabled, the elderly, youth, and migrants.” It calls upon the nations of the world to seek to overcome inequality and to establish a more equitable distribution of wealth. It calls for the eradication of poverty and hunger.
The Declaration affirms the principle of the right of nations to control their natural resources: We “reiterate our commitment with the principle of the sovereign right of States to make best use of their natural resources, and manage and regulate them. Likewise, [we] express the right of our peoples to exploit, in a sustainable manner, their natural resources which can be used as an important source to finance economic development, social justice, and the welfare of our peoples.”
The Declaration affirms “a more ethical relation between Humanity and Earth,” giving special attention to the issue of climate change. “Convinced that climate change is one of the most serious problems of our times, [we] express our deep concern about its increasing adverse impact on small island countries in particular, and on developing countries as a whole, hindering their efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development. In this regard, and in the context of the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, we recognize that the global nature of climate change requires the cooperation of all countries and their involvement in an effective and adequate global response, in accordance with the historical responsibility of each country, to accelerate the reduction of world emissions of greenhouse gases and the implementation of adaptation measures pursuant to the provisions and principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”
With respect to indigenous rights, the Declaration recognizes that “indigenous peoples and local communities play a significant role in economic, social and environmental development.” It affirms “the importance of traditional sustainable agricultural practices, associated with biodiversity and the exploitation of their resources,” and “their traditional systems of land tenure, seed supply systems and access to financing and markets.” It recognizes “the essential role of the collective action of indigenous peoples and local populations in the preservation and sustainable use of biological diversity as a significant contribution to the planet.” It reiterates “the need to take steps to protect the patents on traditional and ancestral knowledge of indigenous and tribal peoples and local communities to prevent violation by third parties by registrations that ignore their ownership, and to promote their fair and equitable share of the benefits derived from their use.”
The Declaration recognizes the urgent need for a “new Development Agenda” that “should reinforce the commitment of the international community to place people at the center of its concerns, promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, social participative development, and protection of the environment.”
It proclaims that foreign investment should promote the development of the region, and it rejects the establishment of conditions for investment that violate the sovereignty of nations. We “express our conviction regarding the relevance of direct foreign investment flows in our region and the need for them to contribute in an effective manner to the development of our countries and translate into greater wellbeing for our societies, without conditionalities being imposed and with respect for their sovereignty, in keeping with their national development plans and programs.”
The Declaration calls for the nuclear disarmament and the movement toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. At the same time, it affirms the right of all nations, without exception, to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The Declaration’s only direct references to the United States were condemnations of its policy toward Cuba. We “reiterate our rejection of unilateral lists and certifications by some developed countries affecting Latin American and Caribbean countries, in particular those referring to terrorism, drug trafficking, trafficking in person and others of a similar nature, and [we] ratify the Special Communiqué adopted by CELAC on June 5, 2013 that rejects the inclusion of Cuba in the so-called List of States promoting international terrorism of the United States’ State Department.” We “reiterate our strongest rejection of the implementation of unilateral coercive measures and once again reiterate our solidarity with the Republic of Cuba, while reaffirming our call upon the Government of the United States of America to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on this sisterly nation for more than five decades.”
On the other hand, the Declaration welcomes the continuation of the development of relations between CELAC and China, Russia, and the European Union.
In short, the Declaration of Havana demonstrates the commitment of the new Latin America to universal human values: respect for the sovereignty of all nations, protection of the social and economic rights of all persons, the protection of the environment, and special measures for vulnerable sectors. It stands in sharp contrast to the policies of the governments of the North and the transnational agencies controlled by them. In addition, the Declaration of Havana symbolizes a complete collapse of the Pan-American project of the United States, as we will discuss in the next post.
Key words: Third World, revolution, colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, democracy, national liberation, sovereignty, self-determination, socialism, Marxism, Leninism, Cuba, Latin America, world-system, world-economy, development, underdevelopment, colonial, neocolonial, blog Third World perspective, Latin American unity, Latin American integration, CELAC