Saturday Dec 03, 201103:45 AM GMT
Venezuela hosts first CELAC summit
Sat Dec 3, 2011 3:48AM
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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attends a session of the Commonwealth of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Caracas on December 2, 2011.
Venezuela is hosting a summit of a new regional bloc that brings together 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, but excludes the US and Canada, Press TV reports.

The two-day summit in the Venezuelan capital Caracas will be the first gathering of the bloc, known by its Spanish initials CELAC.

“This is the achievement after 200 years of battle,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said, a Press TV correspondent reported on Friday.

“The Monroe Doctrine was imposed here: America for Americans, the Yankees. They imposed their will during 200 years, but that's enough,” Chavez said.

The group will aim to resolve regional conflicts, defend democratic principles, promote economic development, and gain more control over the area's affairs.

CELAC also seeks to replace the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS), which was created in 1948 and which many nations see as a tool of the US.

“As the years go by, CELAC is going to leave behind the old and worn-out OAS,” Chavez added.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega called CELAC a “death sentence” for US interference in Latin America, AFP reported.

The new organization will bring together countries with a total population of 600 million, and will collectively be the world's number one food exporter and have a GDP of about $6 trillion.

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