Elio Delgado Legon

HAVANA TIMES — The news has given pause to many, especially those who prefer to keep Latin America divided and Cuba split off from the rest of the continent.

The mainstream media is reporting that on Sunday and Monday (January 27 and 28), the first Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will take place in Santiago de Chile, where Cuba will assume the presidency pro tempore of that organization.

Learning of this, the first thing that came to my mind was the situation in Latin America in January 1962, when the United States pressured other countries to approve the expulsion of Cuba from the Organization of American States (OAS).

This maneuver, designed to isolate our country, had a dual purpose: to ensure that the economic, commercial and financial blockade put in place by the United States against Cuba would have greater impact, and to prevent the example of the Cuban Revolution from being extended to the other peoples of the continent.

Subsequently there came the stage of the imposition of military dictatorships in most Latin American countries. These had the support and backing of the United States, despite the monstrous human rights violations along with the hundreds of thousands of dead, disappeared and tortured.

This was the epoch of ‘‘Operation Condor,” organized by the CIA and the Latin American dictatorships to murder and cause the disappearance of all revolutionaries they consider a threat to their stability. This was the most nightmarish era that the American continent has ever experienced.

But when those peoples said “enough,” no brute force could make them desist. Dictatorships became unsustainable under the pressure of those various peoples, and one after another they had to yield, giving way to the stage called “representative democracy,” though this doesn’t represent the masses of people; instead, it reflects the interests of capitalists – home-grown as well as foreign.

This was the era of “neoliberal capitalism,” which plunged the Americas into poverty, despite the vast natural resources it possessed.

The resounding failure of neoliberalism and the attempts by the US to create the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), gave way to the emergence of governments committed to their people and determined to shake up the prevailing situation.

The electoral victories of leftist governments in several countries, and the measures they took in support of the poorest and hungriest, awoke the consciousness of peoples who had been sleeping and deceived.

This was in line with Abraham Lincoln’s famous saying: ‘‘You can fool all of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

In the face of attempts by the US government to impose the FTAA, there emerged the idea of Venezuela and Cuba to create the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), which is a true alliance of mutual assistance between countries at different levels of development and possessing differing amounts of natural resources.

Cuba has played an important role in the effort by leftist governments to provide their peoples with the greatest possible amount of contentment by providing quality health care to the most remote corners of the continent, giving low-income youth the opportunity to study medicine in Cuba, bringing the light of education to people by eliminating illiteracy, and by providing technical assistance with athletic coaching, culture and in other fields in which the country has sufficient numbers of qualified and experienced personnel.

During his speech at CELAC’s founding summit in December 2011, Cuban President Raul Castro said:

“The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is our most precious work. Symbolically, it strengthens the concept of a region that is united, sovereign and committed to a common destiny. In strategic terms, it provides us the necessary political tool to unite wills, respect diversity, resolve differences, and cooperate for the good of our peoples and to build solidarity between each other.”

“It would be a grave mistake to ignore the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean have changed or to think that we can be treated as we were in the past.”

The 33 nations comprising the CELAC have a common history. They constitute the third largest economy in the world, the third largest producer of electricity and the largest producer of food. Collectively they possess the largest freshwater reserve in the world and have a gross domestic product (GDP) of about seven trillion dollars.

Taking this information into account, we can see that CELAC constitutes the interlocutor that can discuss and negotiate with any bloc or with any of the world’s most developed countries. One example of this is the EU-CELAC Summit, which is being held on Saturday and Sunday (January 26 and 27), immediately before the CELAC summit.

Undoubtedly, Latin America and the Caribbean have entered a new era.

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