Tags: Cuba | Raul Castro | CELAC

Cuba's Castro Calls for Integration Free of US

Image: Cuba's Castro Calls for Integration Free of US

Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 11:58 AM

HAVANA — Cuban President Raul Castro called on Latin American and Caribbean leaders Tuesday to work together on pressing regional problems at a gathering of all Western Hemisphere nations except the U.S. and Canada.

In his keynote speech as head of the host nation for the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC for its initials in Spanish, Castro argued that the bloc is "the legitimate representative of the interests of Latin America and the Caribbean."

"We should establish a new regional and international cooperation paradigm," Castro said. "In the context of CELAC, we have the possibility to create a model of our own making, adapted to our realities, based on the principles of mutual benefit."

The summit's main theme is fighting poverty, inequality and hunger. According to the UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, 28.2 percent of the region's inhabitants live in poverty and 11.3 percent in extreme poverty.

"While it is true that some progress has been made during the last few years, this has been slow, fragmented and unstable," Castro said.

Tuesday's session of heads of CELAC states began with a one-minute silence to remember the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who succumbed to cancer last March.

Chavez, an outspoken U.S. foe, was a driving force behind CELAC's creation. It was conceived as an alternative to the Washington-based Organization of American States, which suspended Cuba's membership in 1962 shortly after Fidel Castro's revolution.

OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza attended the summit as an observer.

Cuba is passing the presidency pro-tempore of CELAC to Costa Rica at the summit.

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Cuban President Raul Castro called on Latin American and Caribbean leaders Tuesday to work together on pressing regional problems at a gathering of all Western Hemisphere nations except the U.S. and Canada.
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2014-58-28
Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 11:58 AM
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