The budding 33-member alliance — dubbed CELAC, the Spanish initials for “Community of Latin American and Caribbean States” — is reportedly the brainchild of Venezuelan socialist strongman Hugo Chavez. Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who founded the shadowy but immensely powerful socialist cabal known as “Foro de Sao Paulo” with dictator Fidel Castro and the Sandinistas, also played a key role.
CELAC represents the most recent integration scheme in a region already plagued by a costly patchwork of expensive intergovernmental alliances, including the relatively new Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the socialist Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), Mercosur, the Caribbean Community, and many more. Among the most prominent is the largely U.S.-funded Organization of American States (OAS), which includes every nation in the hemisphere except Cuba.
While procedural matters and economic issues took center stage throughout most of the December 2 and 3 summit, prominent CELAC leaders announced their intention to eventually marginalize the OAS. “The CELAC is being born with a new spirit,” proclaimed Chavez, who has been off the world stage recently undergoing cancer treatment. “As the years pass, the CELAC will leave behind the old and worn out OAS.”
Chavez, whose “petro-dollars” have helped to finance the spread of socialism throughout the region, earlier called the summit “the political event of the greatest importance” in the last century. “CELAC must become a political union and on that political union we shall build a great pole of power in the 21st century,” he told participants.
Other tyrants celebrated, too. Cuban despot Raul Castro, for example, claimed the group’s success could mark "the biggest event in 200 years." The dictatorship’s propaganda service hailed the gathering and reported that Venezuela’s Chavez told assembled CELAC leaders to “salute” the December 2, 1956, sea landing of communist terrorists in Cuba to overthrow the existing regime.
Socialist Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was among the most enthusiastic leaders, saying CELAC should replace the “distorted” OAS “sooner rather than later.” “We need deep changes to the current system to build a Latin American model, where we can discuss the region’s problems on our own terms in the region and not in Washington,” he said. Correa, whose regime is being challenged in the regional Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for arresting journalists who criticize him, also proposed the creation of a new “human rights court” under the umbrella of CELAC. He pointed out that even the United States does not recognize the Washington-based rights commission, which has called in vain for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay military prison.
But the Obama administration, which has forged deep relations with some leftist Latin American rulers using American tax dollars, was not overly concerned about the birth of CELAC. “The notion that you can create an organization simply to be anti-American is not viable over a sustained period of time,” Obama’s senior Latin America advisor Dan Restrepo told The Miami Herald before the summit.
The U.S. State Department reiterated its commitment to OAS and downplayed the new institution’s potential for marginalizing it. "There are many sub-regional organizations in the hemisphere; we belong to some of them, and we do not belong to others, like this," spokesman Mark Toner said during a daily briefing for reporters. "Obviously we continue working through the OAS, as the preeminent multilateral organization that speaks for the hemisphere."
OAS boss José Miguel Insulza, meanwhile, celebrated the birth of the new regional entity. In a press release distributed on the first day of the summit, he announced without elaborating that he would be seeking to cooperate with it as soon as possible.
Latin American governments that receive particularly massive amounts of U.S. taxpayer subsidies, such as those ruling Colombia and Mexico, took a more moderate tone. According to officials from those states, CELAC is meant to serve as a “complement” to OAS and other regional groups — not a substitute.
But while the U.S. government and its dependents downplayed the significance of the new group, the communist dictatorship ruling mainland China, which has been gaining ever-greater influence in the region, praised the initiative and pledged to cooperate with the emerging supranational regime. In a letter from Chinese “President” Hu Jintao to CELAC leaders read out loud by Chavez at the summit, the powerful Asian tyrant expressed his willingness to strengthen “strategic” cooperation.
Jintao said the organization would "contribute in a significant way to strengthening the unity and the coordination among the region's countries to face global challenges together." And he pledged his regime’s desire to make “joint efforts” to develop an alliance based on the precepts of “equality” and “shared development.”
Officially, the new hemispheric group will work to promote “democracy” and “human rights.” Trade and security are also on the agenda. But critics noted that the coalition includes some of the most repressive and eccentric dictatorships on earth. More than likely, according to analysts, the new entity will in fact be used to spread the “revolution” that has already seized control of most governments in the region.
Chavez, of course, promised otherwise. “Forget ideologies, CELAC is an independent process, independent of Cuban Socialism, of Venezuelan Socialism, or of the ideology that the Brazilian government may be promoting,” he said.
But critics believe the organization will indeed be used to help foist more tyranny on the nearly 600 million people of Latin American. “The CELAC ... will always be an instrument of destabilization and coordination for those who seek power to impose their will,” noted Pedro Corzo, director of the Institute of Cuban Historical Memory Against Totalitarianism.
Some experts pointed out that the integration schemes were old — going back to before the Club of Rome and other shadowy groups promoting global governance became well known — but dangerous nonetheless. "It's not going to be a good thing in my opinion because I see what's going on in Europe," liberty-minded analyst and attorney Jayson Rosa of Brazil said of CELAC, noting that the Latin American integration scheme originally began with Simón Bolivar in the 1800s but has since been taken up by Chavez and others.
Rosa said that today China was the key to understanding the erosion of rights through integration going on around the world, saying the communist regime was forcing governments to “enslave” their populations. “They’re taking our rights because it is to their advantage,” he explained. “The less rights people have, the better for them.” National sovereignty is also being targeted under the guise of resolving the economic crisis, he added, again pointing to the European Union.
“What will integration bring to populations? In my opinion it will bring about the enslavement of humanity,” Rosa said. “Some people make little jokes about the new world order, thinking it’s a fantasy.... Others who know about it and agree, that’s because they think it will be a good thing — integrating humanity. But in reality it won’t be."
Prominent anti-capitalist agitators in Latin America saw the news from a different angle. "The creation of the CELAC is part of a global and continental shift, characterized by the decline of U.S. hegemony and the rise of a group of regional blocs that form part of the new global balance," noted militant author and journalist Raúl Zibechi in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada.
Analysts were divided on how effective and powerful the CELAC would become, though most serious and honest experts were aware of the communist Chinese fingerprints tainting the initiative. But many observers are waiting to see what direction the newest supranational regime in the Americas will take.
The next summit will be hosted by the more liberty-minded government of Chile, which will hold the organization’s rotating presidency for the first year. The third gathering will be held in Cuba.
Photo: AP Images