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article imageU.S., Canada excluded from new organization for the Americas

By Chris Dade     Feb 23, 2010 in World
Leaders of 32 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, meeting in Mexico, decided to exclude the U.S. and Canada from membership of a new organization for countries on the American continents.
Following a two-day meeting in the Mexican resort of Cancun the formation of a body which is being regarded in some quarters as a potential rival to the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) is now set to proceed.
The Los Angeles Times observed on Monday that with leaders such as Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez seeing the OAS as a body strongly favoring the interests of the U.S. one of the main aims of the two-day meeting was the creation of an alternative organization.
Even Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who has acknowledged the close relationship between the economy of the U.S. and his country's economy, has appeared eager to see the new body created, saying:It is time for Latin Americans and Caribbeans to unite
As leaders such as Cuban President Raul Castro, President of Brazil Inacio Lula da Silva, and Hugo Chavez listened they heard their host add:The challenge that faces our region is not a matter of left or right, it is not a question of ideologies or doctrines. Rather, it is the alternative between the past and the future, a future where the values we believe in -- democracy, justice and freedom -- can flourish
According to Xinhua the provisional name for the new body is the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELC), with the Seattle Times/Associated Press indicating that 33 nations are likely to become members of an organization that is set, in the words of the Earth Times, to "promote common goals" and "serve as a representative of the region in talks at the global level".
Of the 33 nations expected to join CELC the only one absent from Cancun was Honduras.
Porfirio Lobo assumed the office of President of Honduras only last month but there remain doubts over his legitimacy among countries in the region after Manuel Zelaya was removed from office by a coup in June of last year.
That coup resulted in Honduras having its membership of the OAS suspended.
CELC, the full name may be changed in due course, will draw its member states from those that currently belong to the Rio Group and the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
Commenting from Washington on the announcement of the new organization, that will not be offering membership to Canada or the U.S., State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said:Virtually all of the countries attending the unity summit are strong partners of the United States and we are working together with them on a broad range of initiatives. So we consider the meeting in Mexico as consistent with our goals for the hemisphere
Another member of the State Department, Arturo Valenzuela, is quoted by the BBC as saying:This should not be an effort that would replace the OAS
In addition the man soon to be installed as Chile's President, Sebastian Pinera, has reportedly asserted:It's very important that we don't try to replace the OAS. The OAS is a permanent organisation that has its own functions
No reaction from Canadian authorities to news of their country's exclusion from CELC appears to have been forthcoming.
A summit in Venezuela in 2011 is expected to see yet more discussion on the structure/policies to be adopted by CELC.
Other matters discussed in Cancun included funding for Haiti in the wake of the January 12 earthquake - $25 million was pledged for that purpose - and support for Argentina in its dispute with Britain over the oil exploration taking place in the Falkland Islands.
Argentina claims sovereignty over the Islands, which it invaded and was forced to withdraw from in 1982, referring to them as Las Malvinas.
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