CARACAS – The heads of state and government of Latin America and the Caribbean wrapped up their summit in Caracas on Saturday, having successfully founded the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, with the passing of the Declaration of Caracas and with Chilean President Sebastian Piñera being named the pro tem president of the new organization.
At the end of the plenary session, Piñera summoned the participants to their next meeting in Santiago de Chile.
The host and president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, confirmed the approval of the Caracas Plan of Action, though he added that discussions will continue about the formula for taking decisions within the organization, whether by majority vote or by consensus.
“The subject will continue to be evaluated at the coming events, but meanwhile CELAC will continue to take its decisions as it has up to now, which is to say by consensus,” said Chavez, whose country hosted the two-day conclave to create this new means of integration.
Upon receiving the pro tem presidency of CELAC from Chavez, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera invited participants to “look toward the future” and said that he takes office “with a great sense of responsibility and a great deal of hope.”
“This 21st century will be the century of Latin America and the Caribbean,” the head of state said.
In his first official act as head of CELAC, Piñera asked that a resolution be passed supporting the candidacy of Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon as director general of the International Labor Organization, or ILO.
He called on “the strength of this continent that is young but full of hope” to back Garzon, who came from the metallurgy industry and labor unions to take the leap into politics and eventually become his country’s vice president in 2010 under President Juan Manuel Santos.
Piñera expressed a wish that the troika made up of his country Chile, Venezuela as the nation of its last president, and Cuba as host of the next CELAC Summit in 2012, will be able to perform a “fruitful labor.”
“We undoubtedly go our ways with differences of opinion. Vive la difference,” the president said, calling on all to work “guided by the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights, and justice,” and above all with deep love of the people.
CELAC, to which 33 countries in the region belong, comes into being with the political legacy of the Group of Rio and the Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development, or CALC.