The presidents and chiefs of state from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC, met Wednesday in the beach resort of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, to celebrate the sub-regional bloc’s fifth summit.
With less attendance than previous summits, discussions are being held by president of host country Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina and his counterparts in the region: Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela; Raul Castro, Cuba; Rafael Correa, Ecuador; Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua; Evo Morales, Bolivia; Salvador Sanchez Ceren, El Salvador; Jocelerme Privert, Haiti; Charles A. Savarin, Dominica; David Granger, Guyana; and Andrew Holness, Jamaica.
On Tuesday, the foreign ministers and representatives of the 33-member bloc drafted the Punta Cana Declaration, which is expected to include a total of 19 agreements regarding issues affecting this side of the world.
The final document will be released Wednesday night and will address subjects on trade, education, culture and health.
Officials announced there will be two special declarations on Cuba, one to call for an end to the U.S. blockade and another demanding the immediate shut down of the Guantanamo prison and the return of that land to the communist island.
The summit will also dedicate a chapter to Venezuela in order to discuss possible solutions to the economic and social crisis facing the South American country. According to the government, the crisis comes as the country is subject to an economic war led by some right-wing sectors.
On his arrival to the summit Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the region must be “more united than ever” in the face of this age’s threats.
“The CELAC strengthens itself and also paves a great path for a Latin America and Caribbean that must be more united than ever against the threats that exist nowadays,” Maduro said.
The absence of many regional leaders, like those from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, has been questioned by those attending the summit, especially because the bloc was founded in 2011 following the direct efforts of late President Hugo Chavez to unify and integrate Latin America and the Caribbean regardless of the ideology or political views of each member government.