Raúl Castro takes over CELAC

January 30th, 2013   Theme: Cuba Libre!

Article by Ronja Kaarlenkaski, Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC, an organisation founded in 2011 with the aim to support trade and cooperation among its members has recently faced criticism as the Cuban dictator Raúl Castro assumes its presidency.

The organisation established by the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is composed of 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and seen by many as a challenger to the Organisation of American States, OAS, from which Cuba is suspended.

Castro was delighted over his appointment. “It’s a great honour for me,” the 81 year old dictator said. “We accept it [the presidency] with a commitment to work for peace, justice, and understanding between all our peoples. We will act in full compliance with international law and the United Nations’ charter.”

Human rights activists on the other hand are not fully as happy. “I think it’s a disaster, a very serious mistake and a setback for the region,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Director of the New York-based Americas Division of Human Rights Watch, a not-for-profit non-governmental organisation. “It sends a message from the governments of the region that they couldn’t care less about the poor human rights record and the lack of fundamental freedoms in Cuba.”

Even people who does not support the U.S embargo against Cuba thinks CELAC’s choice of president is odd. Miami Herrald’s columnist Andres Oppenheimer sais that “it’s hard to take the CELAC seriously when in their foundational charter they put that they’re going to defend democracy and then they elect a military dictator as its president.”

“Either they should abstain from electing Raul Castro as president or they should delete from their foundational charter their vow to promote democracy. Both, together, are a contradiction that doesn’t make sense,” Oppenheimer continues.

Castro and Cuba will now hold the presidency until 2014 when it will be taken over by Ecuador.


Read more

Miami Herald: “Raúl Castro takes over CELAC presidency amid criticism”

Washington Post: “Cuba’s Raúl Castro assumes presidency of bloc of Latin American and Caribbean countries”

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