Latin America

New regional group formed as Cuban dissident dies

Cuban President Raúl Castro (L) Costa Rica's President-elect Laura Chinchilla (C) andVenezuela's Hugo Chávez in Cancun
Cuban President Raúl Castro (L) Costa Rica's President-elect Laura Chinchilla (C) andVenezuela's Hugo Chávez in Cancun Reuters / Juan Carlos Solórzano

Latin American and Caribbean leaders have agreed to create a new regional grouping without the United States and Canada.

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At a meeting in the Mexican resort of Cancun,.32 national leaders also called for fresh talks on the Falklands Islands, or Malvinas, as they're called in the region.

The summit gave full support to Argentina in its dispute with Britain over the islands. Conflciting claims to sovereignty led to war içn 1982 and has been reignited by a British company drilling for oil.

The summit meeting comes amid divisions between Washington and most Latin American governments over how to handle a military-led coup in the Honduras.

The proposed new regional bloc is seen as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS), which has seen rifts between some members and the US over economic policy and trade.

Washington says the proposed new bloc should not replace the OAS.

Further details of the new mechanism, including its name, are to be decided on at a meeting in Caracas next year.

Summit members also repeated calls for the United States to lift its decades-old sanctions on Cuba, which was suspended from the OAS in 1962 at US instigation.

Although the body last year voted to readmit Cuba, Cuban leaders say they don't care to return to a grouping based in Washington.

On Tuesday morning Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo died after a two-month hunger strike. Zapata, who was 42-years-old, was one of 75 dissidents jailed in 2003 but ahd 25 years added to his sentence in subsequent trials.
 

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