The founding summit of the Community of States of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAC for its initials in Spanish), held in Caracas on Dec. 2-3, is an event of unquestionable historical dimension. The term may be used here without fear of exaggerating. From now on Latin America and the Caribbean will speak with its own voice in the international multipolar concert, accelerated by the collapse of neoliberal capitalism and the Washington's failed wars of aggression. "The coming century, [for Latin America], is the century of hope; it is our century, the century of the resurrection of the Bolívarian dream, the dream of Martí, the Latin American dream."
Bolívar, Germain Tessarollo, 1996,
Painting (Oil / Canvas) 104 x 75.4 cm,
Bolívarian Museum of Contemporary Art,
Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia.
The founding summit of the Community of States of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAC), held in Caracas on Dec. 2-3, is an event of unquestionable historical dimension. The term may be used here without fear of exaggerating. The meeting exceeded the most optimistic expectations due to the democratic spirit with which the Venezuelan hosts had prepared it in close consultation with the other governments, the atmosphere of comradeship with which it was developed, and for the important content of its founding documents that exude an emancipated, independent and Latin American spirit and vocabulary. From now on Latin America and the Caribbean will speak with its own voice in the international multipolar concert of nations, accelerated by the collapse of neoliberal capitalism and Washington's failed wars of aggression.
Although there are nations in the CELAC that pursue neoliberal policies and others that challenge them head on, the summit marks the region's break with the Monroe Doctrine. As previous experience has shown, these differences should not prevent CELAC from functioning. Yes, it should be reiterated that on the path ahead will be many internal obstacles and especially external threats. In any case, the magnitude of its political objectives of economic and cultural integration and social inclusion, protection of the environment and citizen participation is inherent to the great excess of the dream of Bolívar and Martí. This is confirmed by the Declaration of Caracas, the Procedures for the Operation of CELAC, the Caracas Action Plan and the other 20 documents that the summit adopted.
When Bolívar first expressed this ideal, later updated by Martí, some did not believe it feasible, but welcomed it as noble and beautiful, others were indifferent; still others -- the empires and the oligarchies -- became its sworn enemies and did everything in their power to stifle it in the crib when it became a political proposal. But always, even in the most adverse circumstances, there were those who would defend it and stay faithful to the dream, as shown in the interesting side-by-side discussion of Latin American history on the eve of the summit starring Presidents Hugo Chavez and Cristina Fernandez on Venezuelan television [ See HERE, in Spanish].
Although space does not permit me to mention all the names, the creation of CELAC requires that we remember the social activists, revolutionaries and scholars who kept the dream alive and enriched it over the years, many of them linked to the National Autonomous University of Mexico. But if I were asked to name one name only, of someone in the XX and XXI centuries who believed, preached and acted effectively to promote the need of uniting Latin America and the Caribbean, that would be Fidel Castro. To cite a little known fact, the leader of the Cuban Revolution is the only person outside the Commonwealth of Independent States (CARICOM), that by a decision of all its leaders, has received the Honorary Order of the same, in "tribute to the zeal and sacrifice that accompanied Fidel during his lifetime of dedicated service to his country, his region and the rest of the developing world."
Of course, it is impossible to explain CELAC without the work of the Rio Group, the first distinctly Latin American political consultation mechanism, and the summits of Latin America and the Caribbean Development in Brazil and Mexico. They form part of its heritage, as stated in the founding documents. In addition, it is indispensable to emphasize that in the period between the 1990s and today it was Hugo Chavez who has been the driving force and weaver of the alliances, great understandings and consensuses, one of the principle forgers of the institutions of solidarity and of building solidarity in relations between countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, that made the successful creation of CELAC possible. Among them is the restoration of relations between the governments of Colombia and Venezuela brought about by a commendable mutual desire.
Seventeen years ago -- four years before being elected president -- Hugo Chavez said at the University of Havana: "The coming century, for us, is the century of hope; it is our century, it is the century of the resurrection of the Bolivarian dream, of Martí's dream, of the Latin American dream." History is proving him right.