Leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean are in Brazil to discuss ways of improving integration and development in the region. Solidarity and closer regional co-operation, in the face of the global economic crisis, was high on the agenda. The President of Brazil, Lula da Silva, said: “Mercosur and our allies from Latin America and the Caribbean will not sit back passively as the world discusses the global economic crisis. We will have an important role in the construction of a new political and economic architecture that is multipolar and multilateral.”Cuba, attending for the first time, was represented by President Raul Castro. “We have to be willing to achieve what we have proposed today and not simply enjoy the pleasure of each others’ company,” he told fellow leaders. “Cuba puts its solidarity and unrestricted brotherhood at your disposal in order for all of us to work together.”
Consensus has been reached on the creation of a regional defence council aimed at preventing local conflicts, and reducing dependence on US weaponry. Several countries see the US as an unreliable arms supplier as Washington has often vetoed the delivery of weapons to governments in the region.