Mérida, 25th July 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) –Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has pledged to “strengthen” the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), after representatives of the organisation met in Caracas this week to discuss strategies to tackle poverty and improve education and healthcare in the region.
“Here we are undertaking common policies for our people, for their health, education and culture- fundamental elements that constitute a Latin America that will overcome poverty, misery and hunger,” Maduro stated.
The summit on social development was held over Monday and Tuesday, and brought together representatives from more than twenty governments and over eighty social movements from across the 33 nation body. Representatives from the United Nations Organisation for Food and Agriculture (FAO) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) also attended.
On Tuesday, the summit backed a proposition to develop a regional ‘action plan’ to target issues including food security, education and healthcare.
The final plan was reportedly influenced by a series of recommendations made to the ministerial meeting by the social movements, which met separately over the course of the summit. To tackle food insecurity, the non-government groups issued a 14 point proposal, including the “democratisation” of land ownership, a continental strategy to protect and store seeds and the total abolition of big “agribusiness”.
The non-government groups also declared access to universal and free healthcare as a human right, and called for an end to the monopolisation of the medicine industry by transnational pharmaceutical companies. The meeting also called for free education across the region, and advocated the creation of a CELAC television channel.
A final draft of the ‘action plan’ has to be forwarded to the heads of CELAC governments for approval.
“When the next meeting takes place in Havana in 2014, our highest aspiration is that presidents [of CELAC member states] already have an agenda, an action plan to be approved with resources [assigned]”, Maduro said.
In a statement, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) described the summit as “a great… achievement”.
“To eradicate poverty we have to first identify what is generating poverty, and the history of Latin America has shown that capitalism has given our people exploitation, misery and hunger,” the statement read.
According to the PSUV, “to end poverty… we need to build socialism.”
Founded in December, 2011 in Caracas, the CELAC has often been described as an alternative to the Organisation of American States (OAS). Unlike the OAS, however, CELAC does not include the United States and Canada. The organisation represents around 600 million people.