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The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean is a key United Nations body which is referred to by its various acronyms of UNECLAC, ECLAC, and the Spanish acronym CEPAL. This regional commission of the U.N. has a mandate to foster economic cooperation between the various member states.
There are 45 member nations in total. This includes 13 in the Caribbean, 20 in Latin America, and 12 which lie outside the region. There are also 13 members who are associated but not full members. This is because they are territories which are not independent (such as the United States Virgin Islands), commonwealth of the Caribbean (such as the Cayman Islands), and associated island countries. The ECLAC produces a number of valuable statistics which cover the nations in the area. It also makes cooperative forms of agreements pairing up these nations and nonprofit organizations of the world.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean arose in 1948 at the behest of the United Nations. It was originally called the UNECLA UN Economic Commission for Latin America. In the year 1984, they passed a resolution in the United Nations to bring in the nations of the Caribbean into the organization’s name. This commission is under the ESOSOC UN Economic and Social Council and reports to them.
The current executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean as of 2017 is Alicia Barcena Ibarra of Mexico. She has served since July of 2008 in this head leadership role.
There are several important locations of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Its headquarters lie in Santiago, Chile. There are two sub-regional headquarters as well. These are the Central American head office in Mexico City, Mexico and the Caribbean head office in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.
Other important country offices exist in four nations. These include Buenos Aires, Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; Brasilia, Brazil; and Bogota, Colombia. The organization also maintains a liaison office in Washington D.C. in the United States.
The member states of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean include Venezuela, Uruguay, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Spain, South Korea, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Portugal, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, Norway, Nicaragua, the Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, Jamaica, Italy, Honduras, Haiti, Guyana, Guatemala, Grenada, Germany, France, El Salvador, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Dominica, Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, Canada, Brazil, Bolivia, Belize, Barbados, Bahamas, Argentina, and Antigua and Barbuda.
The associated members of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean are the United States Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Sint Maarten, Puerto Rico, Montserrat, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Curacao, the Cayman Islands, The British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Aruba, and Anguilla.
It was the creation of this Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean that became an instrumental part of the so-called “Big D development.” Economists and regional historians blame the founding of this ECLA and the subsequent policies it recommended for the ensuing problems including dependency and structuralism. This is because though the group was established in the period following the Second World War, its roots in fact date back to the era of colonialism which saw the European powers such as Britain, France, and Spain and the United States as economic overlords of much of South America.
It was the League of Nations which came up with the idea for a need to economically restructure South and Central America and the Caribbean. Stanley Bruce drew up the document which he presented to the League of Nations in 1939. This had a major impact on the establishment of the United Nations Economic and Social Committee in the year 1944. At first the ECLA did not have effective policies for Latin America.
In subsequent decades though, it dramatically altered the balance of economic power in the region as member nations became prisoners of the interest and principal repayments on loans for development projects. These were forced upon them by the World Bank, IMF, and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.