Two weeks ago, representatives from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, known as the CELAC, including 33 nations, gathered in Cuba for the second summit since its formation 3 years ago. Over 30 heads of state were present, as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza, to discuss regional issues such as poverty, hunger and economic inequality. 
The summit closed with a conclusive political declaration for the organization as well as a series of documents including development plans to implement in respective countries. Yet uncertainty lingers over the effectiveness of this organization. Here to discuss the issues at hand is Alex Sanchez, senior researcher with Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
Sanchez responded to widespread criticism that the countries calling most loudly for integration and democracy are most deeply affected by inequality and corruption.
“The criticism of some member states of CELAC, of Venezuela, Honduras…[they] are going through some major tumultuous times, but I don’t think that decreases any kind of validity. You can look at the European Union right now that is going through this transitional phase…but that doesn’t take away any validity from the successes of the EU.”
You can listen to the full conversation on the CELAC summit here:
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In other news, the Pacific Alliance met this week in Cartagena, Colombia. This includes Chile, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, and as of this week, Costa Rica. Also a new organization, member presidents just signed an accord to eliminate tariffs on 92 percent of the products they trade among each other.
“This momentum is only going to last if the economy of the member states remain as productive as they have been. Tomorrow if Peru runs out of gold…then their economies are going to collapse. They are still agricultural-based and mining-based economies. So they are at the mercy of the international market, at the mercy of a variety of issues. But certainly, for the time-being, the Pacific Alliance is the way to go.