Community of Latin American and Caribbean States

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)[lower-alpha 1] is a regional bloc of Latin American and Caribbean states proposed on February 23, 2010, at the Rio GroupCaribbean Community Unity Summit,[3][4][5] and created on December 3, 2011, in Caracas, Venezuela, with the signature of The Declaration of Caracas.[6] It consists of 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean having five official languages.[7]

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
Map of North, Central and South America indicating CELAC members:
  Member countries
  Claimed territoriesa
Head officeCaracas, Venezuela[1]
Official languages
  • Latin American
  • Caribbean
Membership33 member states
 President pro tempore
Ralph Gonsalves[2]
EstablishmentFebruary 23, 2010 (2010-02-23)
 2011 estimate

CELAC is an example of a decade-long push for deeper integration within Latin America.[8] CELAC was created to deepen Latin American integration and to reduce the significant influence of the United States on the politics and economics of Latin America. It is seen as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS), a regional body that was founded by United States and 21 other Latin American nations as a countermeasure to potential Soviet influence in the region.[8][9] Cuba, which was suspended from the OAS in 1962 and has since refused to rejoin, is a member of CELAC.[8]

CELAC is the successor of the Rio Group and the Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC).[10] In July 2010, CELAC selected President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez and President of Chile Sebastián Piñera, as co-chairs of the forum to draft statutes for the organization.

Brazil decided to suspend its participation in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in January 2020 under the administration of Jair Bolsonaro.[11] Following the 2022 Brazilian general election, newly elected president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signalled his intention to rejoin the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States,[12] effectively doing so in the first days of his administration.[13]


2008–2010: Brazil and Mexico initiatives

The immediate predecessor of the CELAC is the Rio Group. Formed in 1986, it gathered 24 Latin American and Caribbean countries around summits to cooperate regional policy issue independently of the United States.[14]

On 16–17 December 2008, the I Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC) took place in Costa do Sauipe, Bahia, Brazil. It was organized at the initiative of the Lula administration with the goal of building cooperation mechanism with greater autonomy from the United States and Canada. Most heads of state from Latin America and the Caribbean states attended, with the exception of President of Colombia Álvaro Uribe and President of Peru Alan García.[15] The summit finished with the signing of the Bahia Declaration, a common agenda establishing the following priorities: cooperation between mechanism of regional and subregional integration, the global financial crisis, energy, infrastructures, social development and eradication of hunger and poverty, food security, sustainable development, natural disasters, human rights promotion, migration, South–South cooperation and Latin America and Caribbean projection.[16][17]

In 2008, the Calderón administration of Mexico proposed the creation of the Latin American and the Caribbean Union (Spanish: Unión Latinoamericana y del Caribe, ULC). The proposal was formalized on 27 March 2009 at Rio Group meeting. At the initiative of Mexico, the XXI Rio Summit and the II CALC summit were held together on 22–23 February 2010 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The joint summit was named the Latin American and Caribbean Unity Summit and the 33 attending states decided to create the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which would be formally established in 2011.[18]

Hugo Chávez, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Rafael Correa were among the other prominent left-wing leaders who praised the creation of CELAC.[19]

The announcement prompted debate and discussion across Latin America and the Caribbean about whether it was more beneficial to have close ties with U.S. and Canada or to work independently.[20]

Raúl Zibechi, writing for Mexico's center-left La Jornada newspaper said, "The creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is part of a global and continental shift, characterized by the decline of U.S. hegemony and the rise of a group of regional blocs that form part of the new global balance."[21]

An editorial in Brazil's Estadão newspaper said, "CELAC reflects the disorientation of the region's governments in relation to its problematic environment and its lack of foreign policy direction, locked as it is into the illusion that snubbing the United States will do for Latin American integration what 200 years of history failed to do."[19]

2011: Founding

CELAC's inaugural summit was due to be held in mid-2011, but was postponed because of the ill-health of Hugo Chávez, president of the host nation, Venezuela. The summit was instead held on December 2 and 3, 2011 in Caracas.[22] It primarily focused on the global economic crisis and its effects on the region. Several leaders, including presidents Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Dilma Rousseff and Juan Manuel Santos, encouraged an increase in regional trade, economic development, and further economic cooperation among members in order to defend their growing economies.[20]

Chavez, and other leaders such as Rafael Correa and Daniel Ortega, expressed hope that the bloc would work to further Latin American integration, end U.S. hegemony and consolidate control over regional affairs.[20] Chavez, citing the Monroe Doctrine as the original confirmation of U.S. interference in the region, openly called for CELAC to replace the OAS: "As the years go by, CELAC is going to leave behind the old and worn-out OAS." Correa called for a new human rights commission to replace the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Other leaders argued that the organisation should be used as a tool to resolve regional disagreements and uphold democratic values, but not as a replacement of the OAS.[20] Santos stated that he would like to see dialogue within the group over whether existing counter-drug regulations should be revised.[20] The president of the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino) said he expects that Parlatino will become the main legislative institution of CELAC.[23] Amongst the key issues on the agenda were the creation of a "new financial architecture," sanction for maintaining the legal status of coca in Bolivia and the rejection of the Cuban embargo by the U.S.[24]

United States President Barack Obama's senior adviser on Latin America, Daniel Restrepo, informed reporters from Miami that the U.S. government would "watch and see what direction CELAC takes".[25]

2013 Summit – Chile

ESO exhibition area at the CELAC–EU summit in Santiago[26]

The EU-LAC Foundation chose CELAC to be the main organization representative of the relationship between European and Latin American and Caribbean countries.

2014 Summit – Cuba

During the summit, the region was declared a "peace zone". After three days and with the approval of participating representatives, a document with 83 focus points was created. It emphasized that, despite cultural and regional differences, unity between the participating countries is necessary in order to create progress. "Unity and the integration of our region must be gradually constructed, with flexibility, with respect to differences, diversity, and the sovereign right of each of our countries to choose our own forms of political and economic organization" stated the document. It also states which countries have been developing the best and how they are doing it in order for them to be a model for other countries.

The issue of poverty was widely discussed. Cuba's Raul Castro pointing out that throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, people want a fairer distribution of wealth, access to affordable education, employment, better salaries, and the eradication of illiteracy. He argued that CELAC countries can work together, support each other, to create new plans and solutions for these problems.[27]

2016 Summit – Ecuador

Official 2016 CELAC Summit portrait in Quito, Ecuador


The CELAC has six organs:[28]

The pro tempore presidency is the main representative of the CELAC. The troika is composed by the current pro tempore presidency, its predecessor, its successor and the presidency of the CARICOM.[28]

Summits list

CELAC Summits
SummitYearHost countryHost city
*2010 MexicoPlaya del Carmen
*2011 VenezuelaCaracas
IJanuary 2013[29] ChileSantiago
IIJanuary 2014[30] CubaHavana
IIIJanuary 28–29, 2015[31] Costa RicaBelén, Heredia
IVJanuary 27, 2016[32] EcuadorQuito
VJanuary 24–25, 2017[33] Dominican RepublicPunta Cana
*2018 El SalvadorDid not take place
*2019 BoliviaDid not take place
*2020 MexicoDid not take place
VI2021 MexicoMexico City
VII2023 ArgentinaBuenos Aires

Member states

A clickable Euler diagram showing the relationships between various multinational organisations in the Americas.vde

CELAC comprises 33 countries, speaking five different languages: Eighteen Spanish-speaking countries

Twelve English-speaking countries

One Dutch-speaking country

One French-speaking country

One Portuguese-speaking country

Twelve members are in South America.Portuguese-speaking Brazil suspended its membership in January 2020, alleging that the organization failed to "protect democracy" in member states. The decision was taken during the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro,[34] who was himself accused of attacking Brazil's democratic institutions.[35] Following the 2022 Brazilian general election, newly elected president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signalled his intention to rejoin.[12] After taking office Lula reinstated Brazil's membership into the organization.


The following table shows various data for CELAC member states, including area, population, economic output and income inequality, as well as various composite indices, including human development, viability of the state, rule of law, perception of corruption, economic freedom, state of peace, freedom of the press and democratic level.

2015 !! GDP (PPP)[37]
(Intl. $)
2015 !! GDP (PPP)
per capita
(Intl. $)
2015 !! Income
(latest available) !! HDI[38]
2015 !! FSI[39]
2016 !! RLI[40]
2016 !! CPI[41]
2016 !! IEF[42]
2017 !! GPI[43]
2016 !! WPFI[44]
2016 !! DI[45]
 Antigua and Barbuda44091,8182,117,532,26623,0620.78656.20.67
 Bahamas, The13,880388,0198,924,827,79323,0010.79251.60.616661.1
 Costa Rica51,1004,807,85074,976,669,84115,59548.530.77645.10.685865.01.69911.107.88
 Dominican Republic48,67010,528,391149,893,354,99014,23747.070.72270.80.473162.92.14327.906.67
 El Salvador21,0406,126,58352,808,578,0888,62041.840.68072.50.493664.12.23727.206.64
 Saint Kitts and Nevis26055,5721,394,199,26125,0880.7650.66
 Saint Lucia620184,9992,024,690,87010,94442.580.7350.646065.0
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines390109,4621,219,366,99711,1400.7220.616065.2
 Trinidad and Tobago5,1301,360,08845,302,518,90833,30940.270.78057.80.573561.22.05623.297.10
(Intl. $)
per capita

(Intl. $)

(latest available)
  • a CELAC total used for indicators 1 through 3; CELAC weighted average used for indicator 4; CELAC unweighted average used for indicators 5 through 13.
  • b Data from CIA World Factbook for 2014.
  • c Data refer to 2014.
Note: The colors indicate the country's global position in the respective indicator. For example, a green cell indicates that the country is ranked in the upper 25% of the list (including all countries with available data).
Highest quartile Upper-mid (3rd quartile) Lower-mid (2nd quartile) Lowest quartile


The regional body has joint forums that work with external global entities. Including: China,[46][47] and the European Union.

See also


    • Spanish: Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños
    • Portuguese: Comunidade de Estados Latino-Americanos e Caribenhos
    • French: Communauté des États latino-américains et caribéens
    • Dutch: Gemeenschap van Latijns-Amerikaanse en Caraïbische Staten


  2. "St Vincent and the Grenadines becomes first CARICOM nation to lead CELAC". SEARCHLIGHT. January 25, 2023. Retrieved January 25, 2023.
  3. "Mexidata (English) March 1, 2010". Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  4. Acuerdan crear Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños, Associated Press, February 23, 2010.
  5. América Latina crea una OEA sin Estados Unidos, El País, February 23, 2010.
  6. "L. American leaders officially sign CELAC into effect as new bloc". December 4, 2011. Archived from the original on December 8, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  7. Gooding, Kerri. "IVCC encouraging bilingualism and cultural integration". The Barbados Advocate. Advocate Co. Archived from the original on May 12, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2011. However, at present much of the integration occurs at the governmental, political and policy level as opposed to the personal, individual level, hence Tutor Jamal Henry added his voice to the plea by the Ambassador to have more persons embracing the culture and learning Spanish. CELAC comprises 33 nations making up an estimated population of 600 million people with five official languages. United and integrated the countries of CELAC can be powerful, "together [the 33 nations of CELAC] are the number one food exporter on the planet," further commented Ambassador Febres.
  8. "Mexico gives birth to the Community of Latinamerican and Caribbean States – MercoPress". Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  9. "uake Overshadows Clinton Tour of Region". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  10. Presidentes constituyen la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños Archived March 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, EFE, February 23, 2010.
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  12. "Lula's government plan" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Superior Electoral Court. Retrieved November 23, 2022.
  13. "Retorno do Brasil à CELAC" (in Portuguese).
  14. Rojas Aravena, Altmann Borbón & Beirute Brealey 2012, pp. 25–27.
  15. Rojas Aravena, Altmann Borbón & Beirute Brealey 2012, p. 27.
  16. Rojas Aravena, Altmann Borbón & Beirute Brealey 2012, p. 28.
  17. "Declaración de Salvador, Bahía" (PDF) (in Spanish). December 17, 2008.
  18. Rojas Aravena, Altmann Borbón & Beirute Brealey 2012, pp. 29–30.
  19. In Latin America, Rhetoric Triumphs Over Reality Estadao, Brazil, via translation by WorldMeets.US (English) February 25, 2010.
  20. Rueda, Jorge; James, Ian; Toothaker, Christopher (December 3, 2011). "Leaders at Americas talks: world economy top worry". Seattle pi. Hearst Communications Inc. Associated Press.
  21. Raúl Zibechi Latin America's Inexorable March Toward 'Autonomy from the Imperial Center' La Jornada, Mexico, via translation by WorldMeets.US (English) February 26, 2010
  22. "Latin American summit re-run to test Chavez health". Reuters. November 30, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  23. "Parlatino Interested in Being CELAC Legislative Organization". Prensa Latina. December 2, 2011.
  24. "Obama in Cartagena: No change, dwindling hope – Opinion". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  25. Christopher Toothaker (December 2, 2011). "CELAC, Community of Latin American And Caribbean States, New Organization Aims To Strengthen Regional Integration". Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  26. "ESO exhibition area at the CELAC–EU summit in Santiago". ESO Press Release. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  27. "Conclusiones de la Cumbre de la CELAC 2014 en Cuba : AGRO Noticias". Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  28. Bernal-Meza, Raúl. Modelos o esquemas de integración y cooperación en curso en América Latina (UNASUR, Alianza del Pacífico, ALBA, CELAC): una mirada panorámica (PDF) (in Spanish). Ibero-American Institute. pp. 15–17. ISBN 978-3-935656-53-5.
  29. "CELAC-EU summit opens in Chile – Business News". SINA English. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  30. "Dilma viaja a Cuba para segunda Cúpula da Celac e inaugurar Muriel – Notícias – R7 Internacional". August 23, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  31. "Equipos técnicos preparan los primeros documentos para Cumbre de la CELAC". Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  32. “Compromiso de hermanos” reúne a mandatarios de Celac en Ecuador ANDES. January 27, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  33. "The Fifth Summit of CELAC concluded with the approval of the Santo Domingo Declaration". EU–LAC Foundation. January 25, 2017. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  34. "Brazil sits out leftist Latin American nations' body on anti-democracy fears". Reuters. January 16, 2020. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  35. "Human Rights Watch says Bolsonaro a threat to democracy in Brazil – report". January 13, 2022. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  36. "World Development Indicators". World Bank. March 23, 2017.
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  38. "Human Development Report 2016" (PDF). United Nations Development Programme. March 21, 2017.
  39. "Fragile States Index 2016". The Fund for Peace. June 28, 2016. Archived from the original on February 4, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  40. "Rule of Law Index 2016". World Justice Project. October 20, 2016.
  41. "Corruption Perceptions Index 2016". Transparency International. January 25, 2017.
  42. "Country Rankings: World & Global Economy Rankings on Economic Freedom". Heritage Foundation. February 15, 2017.
  43. "Global Peace Index 2016". Vision of Humanity. June 8, 2016.
  44. "2016 World Press Freedom Index". Reporters Without Borders. April 20, 2016.
  45. "Democracy Index 2016" (PDF). Economist Intelligence Unit. January 25, 2017.
  46. Staff writer (February 13, 2022). "China-CELAC Agreement Could Bolster Infrastructure Development In Latin America". Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  47. Staff writer (December 7, 2021). "China - CELAC Joint Action Plan For Cooperation In Key Areas (2022-2024)". Latin America & the Caribbean. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People's Republic of China. Retrieved February 16, 2022.


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