Tue, 19 Oct 2021

MEXICO CITY, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Leaders from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will meet here Saturday to strengthen the cooperation-boosting regional bloc as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague member countries.

On the agenda is a proposal by Mexico, the bloc's current president, to strengthen CELAC as an alternative to the existing Organization of American States (OAS).

Maximiliano Reyes, Mexico's deputy foreign minister for Latin America and the Caribbean, said Mexico will officially table the proposal to "transform" the OAS at CELAC's 6th Summit of Heads of State and Government.

Practically all countries agree the OAS needs reform, a concern that was originally raised by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in July, during a meeting of CELAC foreign ministers, said Reyes.

Bolivian President Luis Arce will support Lopez Obrador's initiative to strengthen CELAC as an alternative to the OAS, according to Diego Pary, Bolivia's permanent representative to the United Nations.

At Saturday's summit, Mexico will also propose creating a disaster fund to tackle the impact of climate change in the region, among other things.

Almost 20 heads of state are expected to attend the summit, along with vice presidents and ministers. Alicia Barcena, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and Charles Michel, president of the European Council, are also on the attendee list.

On the sidelines of the CELAC summit, ECLAC will present an action plan for obtaining COVID-19 vaccines for the region, as well as equipment and tests to detect the virus.

CELAC was launched in 2011 as a mechanism for regional coordination and integration to promote unity and economic growth.

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