Raul Castro opens Havana summit criticizing 'outside interference'

Jan. 29, 2014 at 9:32 AM
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HAVANA, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Cuban President Raul Castro warned against "external influences" seeking to keep control of the resources that Latin America and the Caribbean region offer.

Speaking at the opening of the second summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Wednesday in Havana, Castro criticized what he said was a "long history of intervention in the region's internal affairs, military invasions and bloody coups."

Castro called on summit participants to build their own model that is adapted to address regional realities, the Havana Times reported.

"We live in a world ruled by an unjust and exclusionary international order in which the threats to peace and external interference in the region continue," Castro said. "The 'centers of power' are not resigned to losing control of this rich region, or waive attempts to change the course of history in our countries to regain lost influence and benefit from its resources."

The two-day summit opened with a moment of silence in memory of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died in March 2013.

Castro also said the region has been affected by the global economic crisis, calling for a "new cooperation paradigm" between countries and efforts to work for free, universal access to education, full employment and the elimination of illiteracy.

"All are achievable goals, whose fulfillment will measure the progress of our region," Castro told representatives of the 33 countries attending the summit.

In his remarks, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Latin American and Caribbean region has undergone "turbulent times, but has come through stronger."

During the last 20 years, extreme poverty in the region has been cut in half and differences are being resolved through peaceful dialogue, Ban said.

"Of course, challenges remain in your region and far beyond: insecurity; inequality; and injustice," the UN chief said while stressing that in the region he has seen countries determined to tackle obstacles together and share their example with the world.

"Many of the world's human rights conventions have been inspired by the Latin American experience," he said.

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