Brazil rejoins Community of Latin American and Caribbean States

Former far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro withdrew from the CELAC in January 2020, alleging that the regional bloc had failed to protect democracy in member states

January 07, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
The VI Summit of the Heads of State of CELAC. Photo: CELAC

The Brazilian government of progressive President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, on Thursday, January 5, reported that it had decided to rejoin the regional integration bloc, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). The development came four days after the leader of the Workers’ Party of Brazil (PT) took office.

The Brazilian Foreign Affairs Ministry, through a statement, reported that the government had “communicated to the member countries of the CELAC, through the appropriate diplomatic channels, the reincorporation of Brazil, in a full and immediate manner, to all instances of the mechanism, both political and technical in nature.”

The extra-regional partners with which CELAC maintains regular dialogue, including the European Union, China, India, ASEAN and the African Union, were also informed of the development.

The foreign ministry described Brazil’s return to the CELAC as “an indispensable step towards the recomposition of our diplomatic heritage and the country’s full reinsertion into the international community.”

For its part, the Argentine government of President Alberto Fernández, which currently holds the pro tempore presidency of the CELAC, congratulated Brazil on its reincorporation into the regional mechanism.

“This action represents a fundamental fact for the strengthening of one of the most representative dialogue mechanisms in the region,” it said.

The statement from the Brazilian foreign ministry also reported that President Lula will travel to Buenos Aires on January 24, to participate in the 7th Summit of Heads of State and Government of CELAC at the invitation of President Fernández.

What is CELAC?

CELAC is an intergovernmental mechanism for dialogue, consultation, political agreement and regional cooperation. It is made up of all 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

It 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 the US and Canada dominated “integration mechanisms” such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the failed Free Trade Area of the Americas, which favor North American interests at the expense of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Lula played an important role in the creation of the regional body. In 2008, Brazil hosted the first summit of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CALC) in Costa do Sauípe, Bahia, an event which helped establish CELAC some years later.

In the second week of January 2020, former far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro suspended the country’s participation in the organization, alleging that it had failed to protect democracy in member states, by supporting “undemocratic regimes” in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.