The Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC for its initials in Spanish) was held on January 28-29, 2014, in Havana, Cuba, marking the conclusion of Cuba’s presidency of the organization. CELAC consists of the governments of the 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean. The presidency rotates annually, with the first three held by Venezuela, Chile, and Cuba, and the next two to be held by Costa Rica and Ecuador.
CELAC 2014 represents a further development of the renewal of the nineteenth century Latin American concept of the federation of the Latin American republics or their union into a single nation, “La Patria Grande.” It was an idea that was central to the process of Latin American independence from Spanish colonial rule, which occurred from 1810 to 1824.
The Latin American revolution of 1810-24 sought not only independence from Spain but also envisioned a republican society characterized by equality, in which the democratic rights and human needs of humble people of modest resources, including indigenous peoples and persons of African descent, would be addressed. The revolution envisioned a profound social transformation, including the abolition of slavery, the elimination of large plantations and the distribution of land through agrarian reform, the development of national industry, and the protection of indigenous communal lands (López 2009:25, 38-39).
The Latin American revolution sought a true sovereignty for the new republics, and it believed that true independence would be best protected through their union in the form of a federation of Latin American republics or the formation of a single nation. In 1824, Simón Bolívar emitted a call for a Congress that would establish an assembly that: would be formed exclusively by republics that had been Spanish colonies; would be a permanent association of a supranational character with permanent institutions; would recognize the borders formed during the colonial process as establishing the frontiers of the independent republics; and would be a commercial and military confederation. The conference was held in Panama in 1826, with representatives from Colombia (which then included Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama), Peru (then Peru and Bolivia), Central America (then Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras) and Mexico. The delegations met for three weeks and produced a treaty with 32 articles, providing a foundation for Latin American confederation. However, the governments of Peru, Central America, and Mexico did not ratify the treaty. It was undermined by the lack of support by the Latin American estate bourgeoisie and by the open opposition of England and the United States, which will be discussed further in the next post (López 2009:51-55, 121; Guerra 2006:149-59).
Guerra Vilaboy, Sergio. 2006. “Antecedentes históricos de la Alternativa Bolivariana para la América” in Contexto Latinoamericano: Revista de Análisis Político, No. 1 (Sept.-Dec.), Pp. 149-62.
López, Horacio A. 2009. Anfictionía en América: La lucha por la Patria Grande en el siglo XIX. Habana: Ediciones CEA.
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