The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last week and accomplished essentially nothing. The 111-point declaration signed by the leaders who attended the summit is a combination of vague expressions of concern over a range of ongoing crises and outright denials of reality.
CELAC, an organization that has existed since 2011, launched with a simple premise: to build a regional organization without the leadership or participation of the United States in order to meaningfully address the hemisphere’s problems.
For more than a decade, CELAC has proven on an annual basis that they’ve succeeded at the first part of that goal. In summit after summit, including last week’s, over 30 Latin American leaders have come together for a photo op and to sign a document demonstrating that they have built a group that excludes the U.S., as well as Canada. These summits often touch on niche issues important to Latin America and dismissed by Washington. They criticize U.S. policies that are widely disliked across the region, such as U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba. In contrast to the Organization of American States or the Summit of the Americas, where U.S. leadership and influence are omnipresent, Cuba has been invited to every one of these CELAC meetings.