Latin American countries agreed to create new regional bloc without US and Canada
Tuesday, 09 March 2010

Bolivia's President Evo Morales, left, accompanied by Bolivia's Justice Minister Nilda Copa, talks during a press conference after the closing ceremony of the Rio Group summit, on the outskirts of Playa del Carmen, 68 kms, some 42 miles, south of Cancun, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010. Leaders of 32 nations have agreed to create a new regional bloc including every country in the Americas except Canada and the U.S. (AP Photo/ Israel Leal)

Cancún, Feb. 23 (ANDINA).- Leaders of 32 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean have agreed to create a new regional bloc including every country in the Americas except Canada and the United States.

The countries agreed to create the bloc at the Rio Group summit ending Tuesday in Mexico.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said the new organization will defend democracy and human rights and foster cooperation among Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Cuban President Raul Castro was one of the first to laud the announcement during the final summit session broadcast live on television as a historic move toward "the constitution of a purely Latin American and Caribbean regional organisation".

US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela said yesterday in Washington that the United States did not see the new grouping as a problem.

The new grouping was expected to serve as an alternative to the Organisation of American States (OAS), which includes the North American neighbours and has been the main forum for regional affairs in the past half-century.

However, Valenzuela said this should not be an effort that would replace the OAS.
 
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