HAVANA._ Negotiations between Cuba and the U.S. regarding the reestablishment of diplomatic relations strengthen the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC for its Spanish initials) dictates of the Proclamation of Latin America as a Peace Zone.

Havana and Washington recently engaged in a second round of talks aimed at repairing the diplomatic ties that were broken by the White House in 1961, prior to the imposition of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, enforced now for over five decades.

Negotiations between Cuba and the U.S. regarding the reestablishment of diplomatic relations strengthen the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC for its Spanish initials) dictates of the Proclamation of Latin America as a Peace Zone.The initial stage of this new climate was hallmarked by presidents Raúl Castro from Cuba and Barack Obama from the U.S., when, last December 17, they announced their bilateral decision to engage in a process aimed at restoring diplomatic ties and a later normalization of relations.

On the subject, the Cuban president said at the recent Third CELAC Summit in Costa Rica that such a reestablishment would require the implementation ofmutual measures to improve the natureof bilateral relations, to resolve pending issues and to foster cooperation.

He added that the present situation afforded the hemisphere an opportunity to find new and better methods of cooperation compatible with “both Americas”, to address pressing issues and to open new paths of exchange.

Raúl Castro highlighted that the Proclamation of Latin American and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone at the January 2014 second CELAC Summit in Havana constituted an “indispensable foundation for them”.

Within that concept, he included the recognition of every State´s inalienable right to choose their own political, economic, social and cultural system, free from any form of interference by any other State as an unrelinquishible principle of International Law.

The CELAC proclamation upholds the preservation of peace as a substantial element of Latin American and Caribbean integration and as a shared value and principle common to community members. In addition, it bolsters a vision of an international order that affirms the right to – and a culture of – peace and excludes the use of force or illegitimate means of defence, specifically weapons of mass destruction and nuclear arms.

The document approved in Havana reaffirms the permanent commitment to the peaceful settlement of conflicts and bringing the use of force or threats to a definitive end within the region. It also ratifies the principles of national sovereignty, equality of rights and selfdetermination.

Furthermore, it highlights the need to foster friendly relations of cooperation between the CELAC block and other countries, regardless of the differences between their social, political or economic systems or levels of development, and the practice of tolerance and neighborly peaceful coexistence.

In his address to the Costa Rica Summit, president Raúl Castro reiterated that ¨Cuba and the U.S. must learn the art of civilized coexistence based on respect for the differences between both governments and on the cooperation on issues of mutual interest which can contribute to the solution of hemispherical and global challenges.¨

He said that it should not be thought that to do so, Cuba has to renounce its ideals of social justice or independence, dilute in any way even one of our principles or cede even one milimeter regarding the defence of national sovereignty.¨

Latin America was the first region in the world to, by means of the Tlatelolco Treaty, establish a Nuclear Arms Free zone, something that has been strengthened by the Peace Zone Declaration which also links this issue to development as interdependent and indissoluble aspects.

The CELAC proclamation was welcomed by Alfred de Zayas, an independent U.N. expert for the promotion of an equitable and democratic international order. He considers it a clear example for the world, highlighting the emphasis in the wording on an appeal for universal disarmament.

In an interview with the Prensa Latina news agency, he said that the regional body´s decision was based on the legitimate wishes of every people to preserve and consolidate peace through the promotion of amicable relations between the states and a commitment by all members to resolve conflict through peaceful means.

For the U.N. expert, the establishment of peace zones and of cooperation in a growing number of regions in the world entails governmental actions that significantly reduce military spending and budgets.

He explained that it deals with a vision that excludes the use of force and illegitimate methods of defence –including weapons of mass destruction–and implies work and negotiation to attain complete nuclear disarmament and a marked reduction in the stockpiling of and trade in conventional arms.

Zayas stressed that the document adopted in Havana represents an auspicious sign in the search for an international order that could and should be more equitable, democratic and based on principles of sovereignty and solidarity.

During that Havana Summit, Raúl Castro stressed that “there can be no peace without development and no development without peace.”

“Which is why we have proposed to declare our region a Peace Zone that rejects war, threats and the use of violence and that any differences between our nations be resolved peacefully by ourselves in accordance with International Law.¨

Beyond the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the U.S., there is still a long way to go before Washington removes Cuba from the list of countries that allegedly sponsor terrorism, returns the illegally occupied land of the Guantanamo Naval Base, ceases anti-Cuban radio and TV transmissions, agrees to fair levels of compensation for damages and human suffering caused and lifts its blockade against the Caribbean Island.

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