The Rio Group assertively announced the birth of its successor earlier this week, at a summit in a resort town on Mexico's Caribbean coast. Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared that a new body had been formed that would represent both the Group of Rio and the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Going under the provisional name the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELC), the newly announced body specifically excluded the United States and Canada from membership, and intends to consolidate the sometimes tenuous solidarity among the Central and South American states. The exclusion of the two North American powerhouses puts the nascent organization in direct competition with the Organization of American States (OAS), established in 1948, over which the US holds decisive authority.
The declaration is clearly a statement of South America's new self-assertion, and comes in the wake of provocative times, as fellow Rio Group states rallied around Argentina in its current dispute with Britain over oil-drilling rights off the Falkland Islands.