Caribbean-Latin American Cooperation: Recent Developments Bring Stronger Ties

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By Joyce van Genderen-Naar

CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 7, 2011: The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, established by the 32 Latin American and Caribbean countries, is the new regional bloc and counterbalance against  the influence of the USA and Canada in the region, and the USA dominated Organization of American States.

CELC attends to be the global voice of Latin America and the Caribbean and will discuss its strategies furthermore during this year`s Summit in Venezuela and in 2012 in Chile. On the agenda are the creation of  regional structures to represent the bloc at global level, to expand trade relations and to work together to fight drugs and terrorism.         

Latin America led by Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico seems determined to strengthen its role and influence in the region. All efforts are made to take along and to integrate the Caribbean in general and in particular the English speaking Guyana and Dutch speaking Suriname, the two countries at the South America continent who are also CARICOM and CARIFORUM Member States. They are the gateway for South America to the Caribbean. In April 2010 President Lula of Brazil stressed the importance of a Free Trade Agreement between CARICOM and MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay) and announced the concluding of several cooperation agreements. 

In December 2010 cooperation agreements were signed between Brazil and Suriname in the field of trade, bio-energy, agriculture, fishery, defense, education (scholarships and training of diplomats), scientific and technical field and the gold sector. About 40.000 Brazilians are living and working in the gold sector in Suriname (total population is 475. 000), and it is in the interest of both Brazil and Suriname to register and legalize the sector. A road between Suriname and Brazil will be constructed, just like the already existing road between Guyana and Brazil. The Presidents of Suriname and Guyana were invited for the 40th meeting of MERCOSUR in Brazil in December 2010. A plane was sent by Brazil to Guyana and Suriname to bring both Presidents to Brazil where they attended the MERCOSUR meeting as observers together with the other UNASUR member states. The relations between Suriname and Guyana have improved and both Presidents have the intention to solve their border conflicts and disputes in a peaceful way. They both discussed the plans for the construction of  the bridge between the Corantijn river that connects the two countries.
 During the annual UNASUR summit in Georgetown, Guyana on November 26, 2010, trade and integration were the main issues. President Lula emphasized the importance of cooperation between the member states and their role in global issues as well as the way they survived the economic crises. He also said that Brazil in the short term will be the world`s fifth largest economy and no longer has to listen to `third degree officials` telling the country what to do. `We are more determined than ten years ago`, he said.

UNASUR`s first leader and Secretary General, the former President of Argentina Nestor Kirchner, who died in October 2010, was also commemorated, especially for his role during the global economic crises. The present President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez, expressed her appreciation for the support given by President Chavez of Venezuela for `helping Argentina when nobody else did.’       

After the UNASUR Summit President Chavez went to Suriname together with the President of Suriname Desi Bouterse, who had also attended the UNASUR meeting in Georgetown, Guyana. At the Presidential Palace in Suriname they signed four cooperation agreements between Suriname and Venezuela in the areas of agriculture, fuel supply, housing and urea supply, a joint venture agreement for the production of rice, the construction of prefabricated houses and factories in Suriname with the help of Venezuela. At the press conference in Paramaribo, Suriname, President Chavez explained that payment for the work will be but through exchange of goods and services, which is already done with countries like Cuba, that imports products from Venezuela in exchange for sugar, medicines, medical and sport services.

Suriname became the seventh country to formally ratify the UNASUR Treaty with approval in Parliament by the governing coalition and opposition on 5  November 2010 (in contrast to the CARIFORUM-EC Economic Partnership Agreement of 2008, which has still not been ratified). The Treaty formally entered into force thirty days after ratification by Uruguay, the ninth member to do so, on November 30th 2010. Dutch as the official language Suriname is also recognized as official language of UNASUR, besides Spanish, Portuguese and English, which means that all basic documents of UNASUR will be translated in Dutch
 
EDITOR`S NOTE: Joyce van Genderen-Naar is a Brussels based Suriname Lawyer who can be reached at
vangenderen@unicall.be.
 

 

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