Published December 04, 2010
MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina – Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations wrapped up their annual meeting Saturday by adopting a provision threatening exclusion for any member country that doesn't abide by democratic process.
The 22-nation Iberoamerican conference said it was important for countries to respect the constitutional order.
"This is a major advance for us," the group's secretary general, Enrique Iglesias, said of the provision.
Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman added, "There is no Latin American forum in which you can be a member if you do not respect the democratic order."
Under the group's new provision, it would take unanimous approval to suspend a member nation for non-democratic actions, such as a coup removing an elected leader.
Ecuador, meanwhile, failed in its effort to include in the meeting's final declaration a criticism of the U.S. diplomatic cables that have been released by WikiLeaks.
Several leftist governments at the conference rejected the contents of the leaked documents, portraying them as an attempt by the U.S. to divide the region's leaders.
Bolivia's vice president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, urged Saturday that Latin Americans not to allow "imperial diplomacy" that creates divisions. "These malicious acts are looking to separate us."
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla said the released documents show that "behind the words and friendly smiles of the current U.S. president, there has not been any real change of policy or ethics."
Spain, however, said the diplomatic messages are not a concern.
"In fact, no Latin American country, or any country in the word, named in these cables has reacted more than dismissively, because they know it is ... subjective information," Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said.
The nations also adopted a statement promising to promote improvements in education and achieve full literacy by 2015. It says should ensure free primary and secondary education and require compulsory basic education for their citizens.