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The Argentine government endorsed authoritarianism at the CELAC Summit

After the VII Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), held just days ago in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, many Argentines were captivated by the figure of the President of Uruguay. 

At the summit, Luis Lacalle Pou simply highlighted the value of the plurality of nations in a community of Latin American states and expressed his discomfort with the presence of nations that do not represent democratic governments. The Uruguayan president said: “I have heard speeches that I fully agree with, others that I agree with half of them, and others that I agree with almost nothing, but I understand that our nations have to be linked (…). All the countries that are here condemn the actions against Brazil’s democracy”. 

However, he continued, but this time referring to the presence of political leaders from the Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan governments: “There are countries here that do not respect democracy, human rights or institutions (…) there cannot be a club of ideological friends here”.

The President of Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez, also made a very emphatic statement at the summit regarding the tolerance or support that nations in the region are showing in the face of human rights violations. Thus, the Paraguayan president stated: “We cannot look the other way when seven million Venezuelans have left their homes seeking refuge (…) democracy does not end with elections”, and continued: “Just as we are concerned about the events in Peru and Brazil, we are also concerned about the massive exodus we are seeing in Venezuela”.

Thirty-three leaders were expected to attend the summit, and among those invited by the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández were the three dictators who preside over Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. In all these three countries, there are threats, torture, forced detentions, assassinations, attacks on political opponents, censorship of critical media, and attacks on people who express themselves against the ideas of the regime. In addition, these regimes have intervened in the judiciary and the legislature while proliferating — in the upper echelons of political power — corruption schemes that reveal the inclusion of wealthy political leaders, who contrast with an extremely poor society living in misery.

Of the three authoritarian presidents who were invited, only Miguel Díaz-Canel, president of Cuba, attended the summit, while the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan presidents were present through their respective foreign ministers, Denis Moncada, for Nicaragua, and Yván Gil, for Venezuela. Nicolás Maduro, for his part, thanked the “cordial invitation of the Argentine president”, who in an interview for the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo emphasized that Maduro was “more than invited”.

However, Maduro decided not to attend the summit, due to the threat of being arrested, since he is under arrest for his participation in the Cartel of the Suns. His absence was celebrated by many in the streets, in the media, and on social networks. However, his chancellor attended the summit. Thus, although Maduro did not go to Argentina, representatives of these three nations attended the CELAC forum.

In the midst of this new “pink wave” in the region, the re-legitimization of some presidents regarding the regimes of these three countries was present in the Latin American forum after the absolute silence of some leaders. Complicity or neutralist strategy of “I do not interfere even if it is about the defense of human rights”?

Perhaps the case of greatest impact was that of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a president who was the victim, just days ago, of an attempted coup d’état by a large group of Bolsonarist lunatics. However, Lula did not speak out against the violation of human rights in the aforementioned nations, he hugged a few times with Alberto Fernandez, traveled to Uruguay, and was able to maintain a super cordial dialogue with Lacalle Pou in that country.   

In addition to the Uruguayan and Paraguayan presidents, other presidents spoke out against the violation of human rights. Such was the case of Gustavo Petro, president of Colombia, who said: “Why don’t we strengthen the Inter-American human rights system? Well, it is time for the Inter-American system to allow for a democratic pact in which the right and the left do not believe that, when they come to power, it is to physically eliminate their opponent (…). If we come to power from the left, it is not to imprison (the) right. In Latin America, there should not be a single political prisoner…”.

For his part, the president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, affirmed: “…there are those who tell us that the value of democracy could be judged according to the circumstances and in their way, from time to time, they relativize the defense of human rights and the values they represent”. 

Boric also added: “Unfortunately, we have seen this attitude throughout the political spectrum (…) human rights are civilizing advances that must be respected regardless of the political sign of those who govern, and their violation must be condemned regardless of whether the violator is of my political color or another”.

Meanwhile, Fernández, host president of the summit, called at the closing of the international forum for the lifting of the blockades against Cuba and Venezuela: “We must all work together to put an end to the blockades on this continent. We have two blockaded countries and that is unforgivable”. President Boric also called for an end to the blockades on both nations.

It should be noted that Cuba and Venezuela trade with several nations of the world; in fact, currently, due to the selective lifting of sanctions against Venezuela, the U.S. oil company Chevron trades with the Bolivarian nation. In January of this year, the first shipments of Venezuelan crude oil have already reached the coasts of Texas, United States.

There are no such blockades; there are sanctions applied by different countries against the aforementioned governments or against certain officials governing these nations. And, yes, there are human rights violations in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

*Translated from Spanish by Janaína Ruviaro da Silva


Marketing Manager of FocusEconomics, a macroeconomic research consultancy. Master in Marketing, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain) and in Irish Literature, University College Dublin (Ireland). She has worked in NGOs and multinationals.


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