Cuban leader in Mexico for new Latin America 'pink tide' summit

FILE PHOTO: Cuba's President and First Secretary of the Communist Party Miguel Diaz-Canel waves a Cuban national flag as he delivers a speech during a rally in Havana, Cuba, July 17, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel will on Thursday attend Mexico's 200th anniversary of independence, ahead of a summit of Latin American heads of state that will gather recently elected members of a new "pink wave" of leftist leaders.

The presidents from Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and elsewhere will on Saturday meet at the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a regional body that Venezuela's late leader Hugo Chavez helped set up in 2011.

Diaz-Canel's trip to Mexico is the Cuban leader's first foreign visit since a huge protests swept the island in July, shaking the communist government at a time it was struggling to contain the pandemic and shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

During the anti-government demonstrations, Mexico threw a lifeline to Havana by sending ships loaded with fuel, food and oxygen tanks. Mexico's leftist president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also sharply criticized the crippling U.S. embargo on the island.

On Saturday, the CELAC organization will discuss the region's response to the coronavirus pandemic and the creation of a fund to respond to disasters derived from climate change.

"It will be analyzed to see what plan Latin America and the Caribbean will follow to have equipment, vaccines, tests for any other contingency", the Mexican Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said this week.

It is also expected that Mexico, as president pro tempore of the CELAC, will push for a unified proposal to replace or reform the Organization of American States (OAS). Some CELAC members see OAS as an "interventionist" instrument of the United States.

Countries across the region have over the past few years oscillated between left-wing and conservative governments, often with radically different economic and social policies.

Latin America's left made its greatest strides with the first so-called 'pink-tide' of socialist leaders in the early 2000s. But some of those, such as Venezuela's Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales, have died or been toppled.

On Saturday, the new wave of leftist Latin leaders are expected to join Lopez Obrador, with Peru's Pedro Castillo, Bolivia's Luis Arce and Argentina's Alberto Fernandez among the 16 confirmed heads of state to attend CELAC.

(Reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Michael Perry)

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