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CELAC seeks renewed momentum at its VII summit in Argentina

The summit of Latin American leaders is held from Tuesday, January 24. Argentina holds, to date, the pro-tempore presidency of the organization. So far, some 15 leaders have confirmed their attendance, although delegations from 33 countries will attend. Part of the novelties of this meeting is the reincorporation of Brazil to the regional forum, while the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, confirmed his absence.

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States will hold its VII summit starting Tuesday, January 24 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the nation that holds the pro-tempore presidency of the group and Alberto Fernández, its president, is the host. As of Tuesday, the member countries will have to decide if the gaucho country continues to lead the group or another candidate country does.

So far, they have confirmed that they will send representatives from the 33 countries that are part of the forum, of which 15 heads of state will attend in person. Among these are the leaders of Cuba, Miguel Díaz Canel; Colombia, Gustavo Petro; Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou; Chile, Gabriel Boric, or Brazil, Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva.

Da Silva, recently inaugurated, goes on a trip that marks the reintegration of the Latin American giant into the multilateral mechanism, after the previous government, of the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, withdrew the nation from the bloc.

Brazil's President Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva and Argentina's President Alberto Fernández hold the documents of bilateral agreements at a signing ceremony, at the Casa Rosada, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 23, 2023.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva and Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández hold the documents of bilateral agreements at a signing ceremony, at the Casa Rosada, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 23, 2023. © Reuters/Agustin Marcarian

Maduro will finally not attend, amid controversies

The Government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced that the head of state will not attend the meeting, arguing that there is a possibility of being the victim of an attack. “In the last hours we have been informed, irrefutably, of a plan drawn up within the neo-fascist right, whose objective is to carry out a series of attacks against our delegation.” This is how the Government of Caracas declined the invitation to the meeting.

Photograph provided by the press office of the Miraflores Palace of the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.
Photograph provided by the press office of the Miraflores Palace of the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. Miraflores Press/EFE – Miraflores Press

And it is that the possible presence of Maduro had raised blisters among the Argentine opposition. In recent days, eyes had fallen on the reception given by the leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba – the latter founder of the forum, together with the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Although the current Argentine president welcomed all the “democratically” elected leaders in their countries, his predecessor, Mauricio Macri, assured that he and part of his compatriots feel ashamed to receive “the dictators Nicolás Maduro, of Venezuela and Miguel Díaz-Canel, from Cuba” and assured that in these countries there is “persecution, torture, narcoterrorism, political prisoners and fraudulent elections that mock democracy”.

Other Argentine opposition leaders also expressed their rejection of these visits. They even proposed declaring both heads of state (Venezuela and Cuba) persona non grata or detaining Maduro, before he confirmed that he would not attend the meeting.

Political moment within Argentina and in the region

The host country arrives at this summit after months of internal political scandals, such as the power struggles within Peronism (the ruling political current) between President Fernández and Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirshner (CFK); accusations and subsequent assassination attempt against CFK or the confrontation between the Judiciary and the Executive after the conviction of the former president.

And the meeting is also held in a scenario of tensions faced by some of the countries in the region, such as the assault on state powers in Brazil or the political crisis in Peru. In this sense, Alberto Fernández warned of a climate of tension in the region and accused the “Latin American right” of promoting it. “There is a certain sector of the Latin American right that thinks that violence is an appropriate way to combat democracy, to threaten society. The express. We must be alert, without allowing that to happen anywhere, ”he pointed out.

The president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, during the national chain where he asked to investigate officials of the judiciary.  Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 5, 2022.
The president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, during the national chain where he asked to investigate officials of the judiciary. Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 5, 2022. © Maria Eugenia Cerutti / EFE

According to Fernández, the recent coup attempt by supporters of former President Bolsonaro in Brasilia “should draw the attention of the country and the continent.” He also ruled out that something similar could happen in his country, although he highlighted the assassination attempt against the CFK.

Fernández also referred to the current political crisis that Peru is experiencing, with protests calling for the resignation of President Dina Boluarte -who will not attend the meeting- and which has already left more than fifty deaths in the country. “It is more difficult to build large majorities and it is necessary to learn to deal with that and defend the institutional framework. Political debate, rivalry, and other threats to the institutional framework are one thing, as has been happening in Peru,” he said.

CELAC also celebrates its VII summit with invited countries from various political currents, although there is a new “pink tide” that has stained the Latin American region with victories of leftist leaders such as Xiomara Castro from Honduras, ‘Lula’ da Silva, Fernández, Petro or the Chilean Gabriel Boric, other governments respond to more conservative currents.

CELAC before the world

Only two countries in the region are not part of CELAC, the United States and Canada. However, the Argentine government extended an invitation to its US counterpart, Joe Biden. The White House tenant will not attend, but will send a group of officials led by the area’s top adviser, Chris Dodd.

Nor was there a lack of invitation to one of the largest economies on the planet: China. According to media reports, Beijing will only send a video message for the participants. Another strategic actor that cannot be missing is the European Union, a special guest that will be represented by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.

These gestures of integration beyond the Latin American borders take on greater importance in the midst of the economic and fuel crisis that the world is experiencing, triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Various economic agreements could arise from these meetings that provide a solution to the consequences of this global situation, which also affects Latin America.

with EFE

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Written by Editor TLN

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