SANTIAGO, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- The two-day summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) ended here Monday, with Cuban leader Raul Castro accepting the one-year rotating presidency of the fledgling 33-member regional bloc.
At the CELAC summit closing ceremony, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera formally handed the presidency to Castro by saying: "you will have the total and absolute support of everyone here."
While accepting the CELAC leadership, Castro pledged that he would work harder "for the unity within the diversity of our nations and to fulfill the dream of Simon Bolivar." He also vowed to "work in favor of peace, justice, development and understanding among all our peoples."
"We will act in full compliance with international law, the United Nations Charter and the fundamental principles that govern the development of ties between nations," Castro said.
Simon Bolivar, who was born in July 1783 in Caracas, Venezuela, and died in December 1830, was a general who led independence movements for the region as a whole in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. He was a personal hero to the ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who pushed to found the CELAC at a December 2010 meeting in Mexico. Chavez was absent from the summit as he has been recovering from cancer operation in Cuba.
Participants at the CELAC summit on Monday passed resolutions on topics ranging from supporting Argentina in its territorial claim over the Falkland Islands to expressing solidarity for Cuba in its opposition to the long-standing U.S. boycott against the island nation's government, embracing a development program for Haiti, ruling on the traditional use of coca leaf and promoting the use of the Andean grain quinoa.
According to a schedule, Cuba will be in charge of coordinating the bloc and organizing the next summit which will be held in Havana, capital of Cuba, in 2015. The CELAC summit followed on the heels of the CELAC-European Union (EU) Summit, the first of its kind, which ran from Saturday to Sunday.