Latin American and Caribbean leaders are opening a regional summit in Cuba with a one-minute silence to remember the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez succumbed to cancer in March. He was a driving force behind the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, conceived as an alternative to the Organization of American States.

Cuban President Raul Castro gave the keynote address Tuesday as head of the host nation.

Castro said CELAC, as the bloc is known, is "the legitimate representative of the interests of Latin America and the Caribbean."

Cuba is passing the presidency pro-tempore of CELAC to Costa Rica at the summit.