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Latin America summit calls for co-operation against Covid and slams West's vaccine hoarding

LATIN American leaders have announced the foundation of a regional health agency to help fight Covid-19, as well as condemning Washington’s bullying and rich nations’ vaccine hoarding.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) summit, held in Mexico City over the weekend, that “our region has more Covid-19 related deaths than any other region in the world. It has been extremely difficult to get vaccines. It is unfair, abusive that so many countries do not have access to vaccines.”

Reports from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism published in February accused pharmaceutical giant Pfizer of “playing hardball” in negotiations over vaccine supply in Latin America, telling Argentina and Brazil to put up sovereign assets including military bases and federal bank reserves as collateral to guarantee its profits.

Celac also condemned the US blockade of Cuba and committed to strengthening its own governance to act as a counterweight to the US-dominated Organisation of American States (OAS), which came in for heavy criticism at the conference.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the OAS was a tool of the US and should not be pushing sanctions on American countries over claims of human rights or democratic violations.

“Such controversies ... should be worked out in neutral forums and the specialised agencies of the United Nations,” he argued.

Uruguay President Luis Lacalle, a US ally, defended the OAS and attacked Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua for what he called “anti-democratic practices,” but ducked a challenge from Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro to a debate on democracy.


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