Under the leadership of President Alberto Fernández, on January 7, Argentina assumed the pro tempore presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) for the year 2022. During the XXII summit of the CELAC, held in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, ministers and delegates of 32 regional countries voted to transfer the command to Argentina from Mexico, the country that had held the position for the past two years due to the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am honored by the trust placed in Argentina by unanimously entrusting it with the pro tempore presidency of CELAC. With the conviction that we are part of a great homeland, consensus will be our first mandate, and respect for diversity, our guide,” said President Fernández in a tweet.
In his speech during the summit, Fernández stressed that “CELAC was born as a forum in favor of ourselves, which always promoted consensus and plurality in a framework of democratic coexistence without any type of exclusions.” He called for making the region not just a geographical expression, but also political, economic, social and cultural. He said that his country will continue working to address the various issues faced by the region.
Fernández also thanked the CELAC for its support in the negotiation that his country is carrying out regarding the pending debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and in the demand for the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.
🎙️"Me siento honrado por la confianza que depositaron en la Argentina, es un reconocimiento a nuestra capacidad de articular diálogos y consensos. Somos parte de una patria grande que nos une". El presidente @alferdez en la XXII Cumbre de Cancilleres de la #CELACArgentina2022. pic.twitter.com/7shCoq7OgJ
— Alberto Fernández Prensa (@alferdezprensa) January 7, 2022
What is CELAC?
CELAC is an intergovernmental mechanism for dialogue and political agreement and includes permanently all 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the second week of January 2020, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro suspended the country’s participation in the organization, alleging that it failed to protect democracy in member states.
The organization was founded by Commander Hugo Chávez, in December 2011, in Caracas, Venezuela, with the objective to promote regional unity and peace, political cooperation, and socio-economic development of all member countries, while respecting the political, economical, social, cultural and ideological differences of each country.
It serves as a counterweight to US-dominated “integration mechanisms” such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the failed Free Trade Area of the Americas, which favor US interests at the expense of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
What is CELAC’s work agenda for 2022?
Argentine foreign minister Santiago Cafiero, who took over the responsibility from his Mexican counterpart Marcelo Ebrard, vowed that his country will exercise the presidency of this regional integration mechanism with pride and commitment, and fostering participation and consensus among its members.
Cafiero reported that during its mandate, Argentina will seek to address the most pressing problems that Latin American countries currently face. He emphasized that Argentina will promote cooperation in areas related to climate change, epidemiological emergencies, comprehensive disaster risk management, educational exchange, fight against corruption, food security, regional connectivity in transport and communications, the sustainable development goals of the 2030 agenda, gender equity, and the institutional strengthening of the CELAC.
Regarding the strengthening of CELAC’s international relations, Cafiero pointed out that Argentina will promote dialogue with the European Union (EU) and countries such as China, Russia and India, among others.