The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) Summit will start Saturday in Mexico City as the body seeks to replace the Organization of American States (OAS) in regional matters.
Mexico currently holds Celac's pro tempore presidency and many countries have already expressed their support to Argentina's bid to succeed it, which makes Argentine President Alberto Fernández's absence -due to an internal crisis- more notorious. A total of 16 heads of state have convened at the Mexican capital in addition to two vice presidents and several Foreign Ministers.
According to press reports, one of the main issues on the agenda will be United Nations (UN) Covax mechanism to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The meeting, the first in four years, takes place shortly after the ceremonies for the 211th anniversary of Mexico's Independence, which was attended as a special guest by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who will also participate in the weekend's deliberations.
Mexico has been one of the strongest critics of the current management of the OAS, which it seeks to transform, along with other countries in the area, while promoting Celac to exert a counterweight in the multilateral concert of the region.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard has described the OAS management of former Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro as one of the worst in history due to his excessive rapprochement with Washington and his interventionism in electoral processes such as that of Bolivia and Venezuela.
After taking over the Celac's temporary presidency in 2020, Mexico decided to reshape as an alternative to the OAS, which has been also criticized as the only regional bloc which, among other things, has not obtained vaccines for its member countries.
Analysts speculate that Celac could boost the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is produced in Argentina, packaged in Mexico and distributed to a dozen nations in the region.
An economic fund to address contingencies in the region is also said to be on the agenda, together with the creation of a working group to transform the organization, which Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hopes to turn into something similar to the European Union.
Celac was founded in 2010 and is made up of 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, but until now it had only played a decorative role in the multilateral sphere of the region.