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Latin America leaders propose new bloc that excludes US, Canada

As the Rio Summit came to a close Tuesday night, Latin America leaders announced that they would start a new regional bloc that excludes the US and Canada.

By Staff writer / February 24, 2010

Latin America leaders attending the Rio Group summit pose for the summit's official photo on the outskirts of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Monday.

Israel Leal/AP

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Mexico City

Latin America leaders at the two-day Rio Summit in Mexico announced at the end of the meeting on Tuesday night that they will form a new regional bloc that will exclude the United States and Canada.

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Billed as an alternative to the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS), the new group will but more distance between the hemisphere's Spanish and Portuguese speaking nations and the English-speaking nations in the north. A name for the proposed new group has not yet been chosen.

Regional support for the US has steadily declined over the past decade as the war on terror has turned US attention away from its neighbors to the south. Most analysts see this move as part of a gradual shift away from the US and toward growing global trade partners such as China and India.

“[Latin America] realized there is an entire agenda that has nothing to do with the US,” says Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington.

The annual meeting wrapped up on the Caribbean coast of Mexico Tuesday. Mexican President Felipe Calderón said the new bloc must push regional integration “and promote the regional agenda in global meetings," he said. More details about what the bloc will look like will be discussed at a meeting in Caracas, Venezuela in 2011.

A shift away from the US

Latin America has steadily put more distance between itself and the US, and not just in terms of trade.

A slew of regional blocs have been formed over the years.

There is the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) – to name two new ones. They add to a list of existing organizations such as the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the Andean Community. This, however, would be the first group that includes every country in Latin America and excludes the US.

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