Latin America and Caribbean countries on Saturday approved 22 documents, officially signing into effect the formation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as the new leading regional bloc.
President Sebastian Pinera of Chile was elected for the first-year presidency of CELAC and the next summit is scheduled to be held in Santiago, Chile, at the end of 2012.
A security guard is seen during the second plenary session of CELAC summit in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 3, 2011. [Xinhua]
Concluding two days of summit talks, the Latin American leaders commented on the formal constitution of CELAC as a historic milestone in regional development and pledged to remain united in order to gain maximum power and influence as a bloc in world affairs.
"Unity is the road ahead. A lot of people think that you can be faster when you move alone, but the truth is that together we will come much further," said Pinera in closing remarks."This 21st Century will be the century of Latin America and the Caribbean," said Pienera, adding he would take on leadership of the forum with "a lot of responsibility and a lot of hope" and called on the region's leaders to look toward the future with vision.
Chinese president Hu Jintao sent his congratulations to the founding of the CELAC, saying, China is willing to work with CELAC and other countries in the region to build and develop a comprehensive cooperative partnership of mutual benefit and common development through the strengthening of dialogue, communication and cooperation, Xinhua reported on Sunday.
Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president and summit host, said the formal establishment of CELAC as a forum where Latin American and Caribbean nations would be able to hold meetings independently from other world forums and maintain their regional sovereignty in front of pressure by world powers such as the United States.
"No more interference, enough is enough. We have to take shape as a center of the world power and demand respect for all of us as community and for each one of our countries," said Chavez.
With the creation of CELAC, which includes all countries in the Americas except the United States and Canada, Latin American leaders want to establish a forum similar to that of the Organization of American States, but without the political influence of U.S. foreign policy.
The U.S. government has not yet commented on the issue.
Pinera called on member countries to join forces and make quality education possible for CELAC countries' 600 million people, fight against poverty and multiply investments in science and technology.
Among the 22 documents signed is the key document named "The Declaration of Caracas," which calls for a joint action plan to be established for CELAC along with the relevant working programs and the procedures for the operative work of the group.