The Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held in late January in Ecuador demonstrated that the pro-integration bloc is the right mechanism for coping with the challenges and conflicts that might appear in the region.

This assertion can be made following the results of the open dialogue and concrete proposals made by the presidents related to the economic crisis hanging over CELAC and the world as well, the zika epidemic currently spreading in the region and the election panorama in Haiti.

The Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held in late January in Ecuador demonstrated that the pro-integration bloc is the right mechanism for coping with the challenges and conflicts that might appear in the region.As for the economy, the summit highlighted Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s proposal to create an anti-crisis tactical plan to look for solutions that help solve the difficult situation caused by the drop in oil prices and other external factors.

It´s time to develop a complementary solidarity plan for shared development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The time has come for us to try ourselves, like we have done in politics, Maduro said during the plenary session.

The lack of equality prevailing in Latin America was another topic addressed by the 33 presidents or their representatives during the meeting held at the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations in Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) region, north of Quito.

In this regard, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa reiterated that the greatest challenge for CELAC would be to eradicate poverty, which is the result of the unequal distribution of income and wealth, he added.

As host of the 4th Summit, Correa handed over the CELAC pro tempore presidency to his Dominican counterpart Danilo Medina, who noted that the meeting held in private by the heads of State also agreed to adopt concrete measures to fight the zika outbreak in the region.

In this sense, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced that the health ministers of the Common Market of the South plan to meet soon to define actions to fight the disease transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito.

The summit also agreed to send a commission of foreign ministers to Haiti to collect information about the country’s political situation after the opposition refused to take part in the runoff.

The presidents of the member countries of CELAC, a bloc that comprises all the countries on the American continent apart from the United States and Canada, praised the talks that the Colombian guerrilla and government have been holding in Havana since 2012 to put an end to the over 50-year-long armed conflict in the country.

Regarding this, they sustained that the bloc is willing to join the UN mission that will supervise the possible ceasefire and the laying down of arms by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army.

The Summit closed with the approval of some 20 special declarations that included a call upon the United States to lift the economic, commercial and financial blockade on Cuba and to return the territory occupied by the Guantánamo naval base.

Another declaration ratified the solidarity with the Argentinean claim over the Falkland Islands, and rejected the U.S. decree calling Venezuela a threat to the U.S. national security.

Meanwhile, Correa made the most of the occasion to reiterate his call for CELAC to replace the Organization of American States (OAS) as a mechanism allowing for consensus and dialogue among the LatinAmerican and Caribbean countries.

According to the Ecuadorian president, the OAS should serve as a space providing dialogue between the regional bloc and the United States and Canada.

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