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CELAC leaders at their summit in Buccament Bay on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Photo: Guyana's Department of Public Information/Facebook)
CELAC leaders at their summit in Buccament Bay on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Photo: Guyana’s Department of Public Information/Facebook)
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By Kenton X Chance

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent (CMC) – The eighth summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), ended here on Friday night failing to agree on a position on the conflict in the Gaza after eight countries were not supportive of that element of the Declaration of Kingstown.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister and outgoing pro tempore president of the 33-member hemispheric, Ralph Gonsalves, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the “various governments for different reasons, some of them didn’t have instructions” did not agree to the declaration.

But he noted “as far as I am aware, there is no country where you had a prime minister or president who didn’t sign on.

“There are some countries which didn’t have instructions. And there are some countries which you can see from how they voted on United Nations, General Assembly resolutions, they either voted no or they abstained on the resolution.

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“Some of them may be domestic issues, some maybe philosophical issues,” he said, noting that “I can’t see any reasonable person in their right mind and senses” not condemning the situation in the Gaza.

Since Oct. 7, 2023, Israel has launched a large-scale military campaign against Hamas in Gaza to retaliate against a surprise Hamas attack on southern Israel, which claimed the lives of about 1,200 Israelis, according to the Israeli authorities.

The Palestinian death toll from the ongoing Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip has risen to more than 27,365 deaths, while more than 66,630 others were wounded. It is estimated that 70 per cent of these deaths were women and children.

Gonsalves told CMC that it was necessary to “be able to see the humanitarian crisis, you must be able to say that it’s completely wrong to kill over 30,000 Palestinians, you must be able to say that we must we must have a humanitarian, not a pause, a ceasefire, you must say you must go and go to the table, a two-state solution all these things are already accepted either at the Security Council or at the General Assembly”.

Gonsalves said that CELAC had also not taken a position on the Russian-Ukrainian war that entered its third year last month, following Russia’s invasion of the Eastern European country.

“No, the position basically, is that we want to see negotiations. Basically, we want to see negotiation,” Gonsalves said.

Asked what was captured in the final declaration, Gonsalves replied, “I think there is a paragraph dealing with that in the general thing about peace that you need to have peace.

“In the draft, which we have, we recall the declaration of the General Assembly, which had done a condemnation of Hamas with the October the seventh (invasion) when Israelis were killed. And what we passed is also is asking for the release of all hostages”.

Ralph Gonsalves
Immediate past Pro Tempore President of CELAC, Ralph Gonsalves, at the summit in St. Vincent on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Photo: API/Facebook)

But Gonsalves remained satisfied that at least “25, 26, whatever number out of the 33” countries had adopted the final declaration”.

When he addressed the opening ceremony of the summit, Gonsalves had said he wanted to see condemnation of the Gaza situation included, but he told CMC later “oh, well, that happens sometimes.

“We wanted it in our draft. But I knew we had difficulties negotiating the text. So, you have a difficulty with that. You don’t compromise everything else, you pull it out. And you have a separate declaration, you know, which is which is what you do.”

He said that the declaration by the 25 countries “is not a CELAC declaration’ adding it is “a declaration of the 20-something countries.

“And you can cross check them at the UN General Assembly, and see who voted with or against the resolutions, and you’ll get an idea.

“I just want to make this point, I was prepared, if I didn’t get even the 20-something of them to exercise the chairman’s prerogative to make a chairman statement. But when I had all those countries listed, and they agreed, I say well, okay, I’m not making a chairman statement anymore. We’ll just have a declaration of all those who agreed.

“So, we had the overwhelming majority agree and you didn’t have unanimity. But we couldn’t arrive at what you might be able to say it’s a consensus. If it was one who wasn’t doing it, I say well, okay. You can issue a statement departing from it.

“But you don’t want to create any dissonance inside of the organisation. So, you agree on what you could agree and what you can’t agree on with everybody, 20-something of you agree and you sign,” Gonsalves told CMC.

Meanwhile, the immediate past CELAC co-ordinator, Douglas Slater, said on the issue of the Gaza “there was a very special declaration today, which is not a general CELAC declaration because several members did not sign on to it.

“CELAC is a mechanism where one of the rules of procedure is that you can only call it CELAC, if there is one hundred per cent consensus,” he said, adding “but the general sentiment that was expressed by the great majority of the countries, I think it was about 25; 25 out of the 33 was a very strong sentiment that was expressed in this special declaration”

He said that the declaration was “basically saying that they deplore the killings of tens of thousands, including Israelis and Palestinians, including the approximately 30,000 Palestinians that were killed since Israel’s incursion into Gaza.

“And they strongly support the United Nations General Assembly call for humanity, immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, and also for parties to the conflict to comply with international and humanitarian law, especially with regards to the protection of civilians, etc.”

Douglas Slater and Keisal Peters
Immediate past National Co-ordinator of CELAC, Douglas Slater, left and SVG Foreign Minister, Senator Keisal Peters. (Photo: API/Facebook)

Slater said that group of countries from CELAC also took note of the ongoing cases before the International Court of Justice to determine whether Israel and its continued occupation of the State of Palestine constitute a violation of international law.

He said the group of countries “also demanded immediate and unconditional release of hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to the affected areas and gave support to the general the United Nations position.

“And finally, on that, it has been proposed that under the new chairmanship of Honduras, they will convened and appropriate mechanism to actively monitor the impact of this incursion on the recovery, development and security of Palestine, and the pursuit of a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.”

Regarding the Haitian issue, where efforts are being made to restore peace and security to the French-speaking CARICOM country and the staging of fresh elections, Slater, a former senior CARICOM official said, CELAC is supportive of the measures that are being recommended at various levels, including those adopted at the recently held CARICOM summit that ended in Guyana on Wednesday.

“But basically, it must be Haitian-led and supported. And Haiti is now in a phase where they are discussing some ways forward,” Slater said, adding “one of the issues as was explained in the discussion is that there was some reluctance to have … elections under the current circumstances.

“But Haiti has now agreed in discussions with CARICOM to move forward with the support of CARICOM and other members of CELAC,” he said.

Regarding Cuba and Venezuela, CELAC was unanimous on reiterating the call for the end of the blockade and sanctions against Cuba, Slater said.

7 replies on “CELAC summit fails to take unanimous position on Gaza”

  1. No substantive comment! Twist it and turn it however you will, this is another Gonsalves failure. The Mountain Labored Mightily And Brought Forth … A Mouse!!!

  2. C. ben-David says:

    Kenton, why didn’t you also post the full text of the declaration so your readers could make up their own minds on its contents rather than just reading the Comrade’s personal and possibly biased interpretation?

  3. Dexter Rose says:

    The Summit a failure Randy? Be real my brother. We understand why you might dispose PM Gonsalves but the summit’s was not convened ONLY to discuss the Gaza genocide.. so help me please understand failure.

  4. What genocide, consider these facts:
    1,Hamas’s charter calls for the killing of all Israelis and Jews.
    2. Hamas has built its terrorist military installations beside, inside, and under civilian infrastructure because Hamas uses the Gaza civilians as human shields.
    3. Hamas fighter dress in military uniforms for parades, but usually they fight in civilian clothes, so how would you know how many of the dead are really civilians.
    4. The corrupt UN’s Palestine terrorist support group wrongfully called UNWRA is riddled with Hamas terrorist on its payroll, yet this vile organization is used as a source of truth by the warped and twisted global antisemites including those of CELAC.
    5. In 2005, the Israeli government forcibly remove all Israelis from Gaza. And in return, Israel has received thousands of rockets fire at civilian centres( which, by the way, is a real war crime), constant attempts to infiltrate Israel to carry out terrorism, and Oct 7 massacre and kidnapping of even babies. Consequently, any Gazans killed, have only Hamas to blame.
    6.They are conflicts and wars- with real genocide-going on in the world, but the antisemitic bigots will only slobber over conflicts involving Jews.
    7.Most leaders of CELAC are Communists. Communism is based on atheism. Therefore, these deluded fools (Psalms 14:1&53:1) are deeply offended by the presence of Israel. Think of it, the entire history of Israel was prophecied in the Bible before the nation was established. The Bible prophecied Israel’s worldwide dispersion( and it happened), it’ regathering and rebirth(May 4, 1948), and even the present day hatred. The presence of Israel is astonishing proof that the the Bible is the word of the one, true and living God. It is a reminder that all of the prophecies MUST BE FULFILLED just as the Bible says. For the atheists that must be very distressing and terrifying. So their irrational rage and twisted arguments should not be a surprise.

  5. Anderson Paul says:

    Dexter Rose the summit was s complete failure by taking into to account all standards of measurement. The very fact that they could not agree on a unified Celac statement is just cause to judge the summit success or failure. If one were judge success by the purpose of the meeting which the the overall reason for its existence. The a reasonable person without a shadow of a doubt can assign a failing grade to the summit.

    Having said that one can reason conclude that there was one benefactor of the Celac meeting. The Comrade without a shadow of a doubt by raising is image among world leaders especially those who were in attendance. The Comrade can leverage his image especially so for the the next General election which is due in the next two years.

    One contributor castigated Mr Cato by saying that the Palestinian issue was not the only topic discussed. Rightfully so, however, Celac failed or was unable to agree on a unified meeting which required unanimity. Using the barometer of successor failure, the meeting was a dismal failure Using all the relevant matrices.

    Individuals who are schooled in the same philosophy as the Comrade will beg to differ. They may themselves have been indoctrinated in the very said philosophy as preached in Cuba and Venezuela. This is a forum which encourages rational thinking and debates. We welcome such as a part of a healthy discourse.

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