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Credit: CELAC X page

March 4, 2024 (EIRNS)—Meeting at their eighth annual heads of state and government summit in Buccament, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on March 1, twenty-four member nations of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) issued a strongly-worded statement endorsing the UN General Assembly’s demand “for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and for all parties in the conflict to comply with international law notably with regard to the protection of civilians.” Aware of “the intransigence reflected in statements by the Government of Israel, and the exacerbation of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” CELAC deplores “the killing of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including the approximately 30,000 Palestinians killed since the commencement of Israel’s incursion into Gaza.”

Importantly, CELAC points to the “ongoing cases before the International Court of Justice to determine whether the State of Israel’s continued occupation of the State of Palestine constitutes a violation of international law, and whether Israel’s assault on Gaza would constitute genocide.” It expresses “grave concern over the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population” and demands “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to the affected areas, and support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).”

It further underscores the “relevant United Nations General Assembly and Security Council Resolutions, that reiterate the crucial importance of the establishment of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders.” Honduran President Xiomara Castro took over as CELAC’s President pro Tempore at the March 1 meeting, and the statement affirms that, under her presidency, she will “convene an 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 the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.”

There are 33 CELAC members, 9 of whose heads of state did not sign the statement. The Presidents of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Ecuador, closely allied with Israel, did not attend the summit, and sent only lower-level delegations. In addition, Peru, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica and St. Kitts and Nevis did not sign. The 24 signatories include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Chile, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The statement recalls that in 2014, CELAC issued a Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, which “reaffirmed the commitment of member countries to the Purposes and Principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and International Law” and declared “that peace is a supreme asset and a legitimate aspiration of all peoples” and “a principle and common value of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).”