Cuba hosts LatAm leaders against crisis backdrop

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Handout picture released by Cuban official website showing Cuban President Raul Castro (R) and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, arrive for the inauguration of the Mariel "megaport" in Artemisa Province, CubaLeaders from across Latin America put aside domestic financial stability concerns Monday to converge on Cuba for the summit of a major group set up to counter US influence. The CELAC bloc of 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations was founded by Venezuela’s late anti-western leader Hugo Chavez, and specifically excludes the United States and Canada. Its second summit was hosted by Chavez’s closest ally, communist Cuba, a major diplomatic coup for a country Washington has tried to isolate through a five-decade-old trade embargo. “We’re building on the harsh reality, laboriously, the ideal of a diverse but unified Latin America and the Caribbean,” Cuba’s President Raul Castro, 82, said ahead of the meeting.