Over this weekend in Caracas, The president of Venezuela Hugo Chávez inaugurated the summit which lunched the beginning of a new unified block for Latin America and the Caribbean. Presidents from 33 countries started this past Saturday; December 3, 2011, the discussions on the platform and work agenda for the Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States (CELAC).
This just formed block is interesting, since left out Canada and specially the United States and includes the participation of Cuba and Mexico. All 33 countries are members of the Organization of American States (OAS),with the exception of Cuba that rejected OAS’s invite to become a member in 2009. Mexico participation is seen as an opportunity to strengthen ties with South America, gain influence in the Caribbean and Central America, which has strong relations with Venezuela, and moves its economy to a less USA’s dependency. For the most part the participant countries have been seen this new created block as a forum to discuss issues and cooperate in matters that concern closely his members, without the interference and influence of the largest economies in the continent, and European countries such as: Spain and Portugal, attached historically to the region.
This is not the end of the OAS, but it is a response to create a block in the region that break out the in some extent the hegemony of the United States and reflect the new circumstances in the global economy. For Chavez and some of his allies is a step closer to the Bolivarian dream.
On one hand, the challenge of this new community will be balancing the needs of large and small countries in a region with different levels of development. On the other hand, the advantage is the opportunity to acquire global bargaining power among all its members in issues that affect all of them, such as environment, drugs and external debt, to mention some of them.
Venezuela enjoys rich natural resources like almost no other country in the region. Venezuela is the sixth largest petroleum producer worldwide. Its main trading partner is the USA (around 60% of exports and 35% of imports), followed by Colombia and Brazil, which both are neighboring countries. The most important preferential trading agreements for Venezuela are the Customs Union (CU) Comunidad Andina de Naciones (CAN) and the free trade agreement Grupo de los tres (G-3).