Argentine President Alberto Fernández Tuesday opened the VII Summit of Heads of State of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) in Buenos Aires by welcoming Brazil's return to the forum after a hiatus under former President Jair Bolsonaro. Fernández said that without Brazil, it was an empty Celac.
Dignitaries from 33 countries convened at the Argentine capital, but only 10 presidents (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, and Uruguay) and five prime ministers (Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Haiti, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines) attended the event. The other Celac members were represented by lower rank officials, such as vice presidents (Costa Rica and El Salvador) and foreign ministers, Mexico, Venezuela, and Nicaragua among others.
We live in the most unequal continent in the world and we have to face a process that leads us towards equality and social justice of nations. United and together is easier than doing it separately, Fernández told the attendees. We believe that democracy is at risk after the pandemic. The ultra-right sectors are standing up and threatening our peoples. That recalcitrant and fascist right wing is putting the institutionality of our peoples at risk, he added.
The organizers also also confirmed Tuesday that a summit between Celac and the European Union (EU) is to be held on July 27 in Brussels, Belgium.
Fernández, who currently holds the pro-tempore presidency of the group, also said he has the peace of mind of asking for an end to the economic sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela. I was in charge of demanding respect for all our nations, I went to the Summit of the Americas and I carried the voice of Latin America demanding the end of the blockades that Latin American countries that still suffer them, they are perverse methods of sanction not to the governments but to the peoples and we cannot continue to allow it. Cuba has been under blockade for more than six decades, Venezuela suffers the same and we have to raise our voice.
Meanwhile, Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero outlined his country's work at the helm of the forum, which was focused on health; labor and social policy; science and technology; environmental cooperation and disaster risk management; culture and education; and the empowerment of women.
Cafiero also highlighted the extra-regional agenda linking Celac with China, with the African Union, and with India. But most of all, he underlined that after four years of silence, the Celac-EU agenda was back on the table.