Rio Group To Create Hemispheric Organization Excluding U.S. And Canada

Mexican President Felipe Calderón hosted the Rio Group meeting in Cancún
Mexican President Felipe Calderón hosted the Rio Group meeting in Cancún

Mexican President Felipe Calderón hosted the Rio Group meeting in Cancún
Mexican President Felipe Calderón hosted the Rio Group meeting in Cancún

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Latin American and Caribbean leaders met Monday in Mexico for the Rio Group summit, where they proposed to create a group that could serve as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS).

“It’s time for Latin Americans and Caribbeans to unite,” said Mexican President Felipe Calderón at the meeting on Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The nascent organization still has bureaucratic hurdles to jump. It has yet to receive a name and will not be established until 2011, according to reports from The Associated Press and Mercosur Press.

A hemispheric multilateral organization that excludes the U.S. and Canada would act as a balance to the OAS, where the U.S. plays a dominant role, advocates argue. Ex-President of Chile Michelle Bachelet supported the organization’s creation, but said that it should not aim to supplant the OAS.

The Rio group, whose meetings are not public, also discussed Argentina’s dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands and promised $25 million in additional aid to Haiti. Haitian President René Préval attended the meeting and thanked the international community for its support.

Honduran President Porfirio Lobos was not invited to attend the conference. His administration is not recognized by the OAS.

The Rio Group is a multilateral organization of Latin American and Caribbean states that began in 1986 and meets annually.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Mexico’s economy shrank 6.5% last year due to the global economic crisis.
  • The United States and Mexico begin a three day conference in Washington, D.C. to discuss how to reduce illicit drug consumption

Caribbean

  • Homeless Haitians who are living in front of the Prime Minister’s office say that the police have cut off food and water donations to them in an effort to get them to leave.
  • Habanos, S.A. executives announced a new Cuban cigar aimed toward women, which they hope will help boost sales after an 8% drop last year.

Central America

  • Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla recently explained the incident in which he was shot in the leg in Nicaragua last November.
  • United States Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Bob Corker (R-TN) met with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and President-elect Laura Chinchilla last Friday before heading to Honduras to meet President Profirio Lobo.
  • Panama’s Foreign Ministry said it will defend its border after a police officer was wounded in a fight between Panamanian police and armed men near the Colombian border.

Andes

  • The governor of the Venezuelan state of Lara resigned after a disagreements with President Hugo Chávez.
  • Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa plans to propose a Latin American body to fight money laundering. He will make his proposal at the Rio Group summit in Mexico and the move is seen as a reaction to Ecuador’s inclusion on a list of countries failing to comply with international regulations against money laundering and supporting terrorism.

Southern Cone

  • Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo visited soccer player Salvador Cabañas, who was shot in the head last month in Mexico City bar. Lugo said Cabañas was exercising on a stationary bike and lucid during his visit to the hospital.
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez continued to criticize the British for drilling for oil in the Falkland Islands, which Argentina claims. Chávez addressed the Queen of England during his Aló Presidente television show, saying “Look, England, how long are you going to be in Las Malvinas? Queen of England, I’m talking to you.”
  • Students shipwrecked off the Brazilian coast are back on land.

Image: Gobierno Federal @ Flickr.

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