Integration within diversity
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In the Declaration of Havana, issued at the conclusion of the 2nd Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Summit, the 33 dignitaries in attendance representing member countries, emphasized that within two years of the founding of CELAC, a space has been constructed “of dialogue, of political agreement which unites us and makes possible the aspiration of working together for the wellbeing of our peoples; which, at the same time, allows for a better insertion and projection of our region on the international level.”

After reaffirming the group’s irrevocable commitment to strengthening this means of effective political dialogue, the declaration expressed the desire to identify, within the context of diversity, “the common challenges and objectives, and the points of convergence which will allow us to advance in the process of integration of our region.”

The document emphasizes the need to strengthen the democracies of CELAC nations and to build more inclusive societies. “Let us improve our productivity; expand trade; better our infrastructure and connectivity and the necessary networks which increasingly unite our peoples; let us work for sustainable development, for overcoming inequality and a more equitable distribution of wealth, so that all men and women feel that democracy gives meaning to their lives. This is the mission, this is the task to which we have been called, and this is the political responsibility we have before us, for which we must be accountable to our peoples.”

In a separate paragraph, the regional leaders expressed their deep sorrow for the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, “one of the principal founders and driving forces behind CELAC, an untiring humanist and promoter of Latin American and Caribbean unity, who struggled against social exclusion and poverty, propelling the integral development of the region forward.”

“We assume the commitment to integrated, non-exclusive and equitable regional development, taking into account the importance of assuring beneficial attention to small, vulnerable economies; to developing countries without a coastline; and to island nations,” the Declaration of Havana states.

The document later reaffirms that “in order to eradicate poverty and hunger, it is imperative that we promote economic policies which favor productivity and the sustainable development of our countries; work toward strengthening the world economic order to the benefit of our countries; promote complementarity, solidarity and cooperation; and demand the fulfillment of commitments to aid development made by developed countries.”

CELAC leaders afforded “the highest priority” to strengthening food security; literacy development; continuing education; generalized, free public education; quality and socially conscious technical, professional and higher education; land rights; the development of agriculture, including that of families and small farmers; decent and lasting employment; support to small agricultural producers; unemployment protection; universal public health; the right to adequate housing for all; and productive industrial development, as factors decisive to the elimination of hunger, poverty and social exclusion.”

They reiterated the commitment to assure the cultural integration of our peoples via the promotion of exchanges of cultural, traditional and modern expressions, and recognized that indigenous peoples and local communities play an important role in economic, social and environmental development.

Also reaffirmed was the desire to promote regional, sub-regional, bi-lateral and tri-lateral cooperative development programs, as well as a policy of South-South and triangular cooperation, which takes into consideration the specific characteristics and needs of diverse areas and sub-regions, as well as those of each country.

The Declaration includes a commitment to continue contributing to the reconstruction and development of Haiti, “with full respect for its authorities and sovereignty,” insisting that governments, traditional donors and international financial institutions more widely and rapidly support this objective.

The body also expressed its support for ongoing efforts to consolidate firm regional principles in regards to respect for the rights of immigrants.

Convinced that climate change is one of the most serious problems of our time, the leaders expressed their concern given its growing negative impact on developing countries and small island states, in particular.

The Latin American and Caribbean character of Puerto Rico was reaffirmed and the body indicated its commitment to continue working within the framework of international law and UN General Assembly Resolution 1514, adopted December 14, 1960, to ensure that Latin America and the Caribbean is a territory free of colonialism and colonies.

Later in the document, lists and unilateral certifications on the part of developed countries which affect Latin American ad Caribbean countries, in particular those referring to terrorism, illicit drugs and trafficking in persons, among others of a similar character, are rejected. The declaration also reaffirms the Special Communiqué issued by CELAC this past June 5, rejecting the inclusion of Cuba on the so-called list of states sponsoring terrorism promoted by the United States State Department.

The Declaration likewise expresses firm support to the legitimate rights of Argentina in its dispute over sovereignty of the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and adjacent waters, as well as ongoing interest in resolving this conflict through peaceful means and negotiation.

Also stated was CELAC’s strong rejection of unilateral coercive measures. Solidarity with Cuba was reiterated, along with the organization’s demand that the United States put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on the country for more than fifty years.

Leaders committed themselves to continue working on consolidating Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, in which differences between nations are resolved through dialogue and negotiation or other means of conflict resolution established by international law.

A statement was made in support of the peace talks underway in Havana between the government of Colombia and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

CELAC leaders also emphasized the importance of culture and cultural industries to national economies and the need to promote cultural undertakings as a way to preserve national heritage, generate employment and meet the cultural needs of our peoples.

In the extensive declaration, those representing the region’s peoples reasserted the need for more equitable distribution within the United Nations system and called for greater representation, both quantitative and qualitative, of Latin America and the Caribbean in key UN positions and international bodies.

The Declaration of Havana expresses serious concern in regards to the humanitarian and security situation in Syria, recognizing the grave threat being posed to the Middle East and international peace.

The 33 heads of state welcomed the establishment of a CELAC-China Forum and a dialogue mechanism with the Russian Federation, bodies which should have a positive impact on the organization’s activities. In the same vein, support was expressed for the process underway preparing for the 2nd European Union-CELAC Summit, scheduled for 2015, in Brussels.

In conclusion, CELAC leaders thanked Cuban President Raúl Castro for the leadership and work contributed by the government and people of Cuba during the country’s 2013 pro tempore presidency of CELAC and the organization of the Community’s 2nd Summit in Havana.

C U B A, Havana. January 30, 2014