The Rio Group
(El Grupo de Rio)
Overview: On December 16 – 17, 1986, the foreign ministers of the eight countries, namely the Contadora Group, consisting of Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and Panama, and the Lima Group, composed of Brazil, Argentina and Peru, held a meeting in Brazil, In which they decided to set up a "permanent body for political consultation and coordination" so as to give an imptus to the process of Latin America Integration. This group is called the "Group of Eight Countries", also known as the "Rio Group", and the name of the Group was officially changed to the "Rio Group" at the meeting of the foreign ministers of seven countries held in March 1990.
Aim: It is to conduct consultations over the important political, economic and social issues of the Latin America areas and coordinate the positions of the member states so as to take corresponding actions to accelerate the development of the Latin American Integration.
Members: At present there are 18 countries, which are Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Dominica, among them Peru and Panama were for a time suspended of their membership with a view to their domestic situations, but they were later restored the memberships respectively in 1993 and 1994. In 1990, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay were accepted as its member states, and in October the same year it was decided that every year one representative one country from the Caribbean and Central America would respectively be recommended to participate in the activities conducted by the Rio Group. In 2000, the Rio Group took in Dominica, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala as member states.
Organizational structure: The summit conference is the highest level one for the political consultations, which is convened once a year. No organ is set up for handling the routine affairs, and consultative meetings of foreign ministers or ministers in charge of other special matters will be held irregularly as the situation changes in Latin America. Every year, the foreign ministry of the host state for the summit meeting looks after their liaison work.
Major activities: During 27-29 November 1987, the first summit meeting of the Rio Group was convened in Acapulco, Mexico. The meeting focused on the discussions of the important political and economic issues, with "Acapulco Statement" passed during the meeting. The main contents of the statement were to strengthen consultation and enhance unity, to coordinate the points of view when dealing with the issues in connection with Latin America so as to support one another. The statement also advocated that the two sides, creditor and debtor, should jointly take up its own responsibility in solving the debt problems.
During 28 - 29 October 1988, the 2nd summit meeting took place at Cavo de Este, Uruguay, at which the "Cavo Este Declaration" was adopted, stressing that the aim of the organization was to work for "peace, safety, development and democracy". The main contents of the declaration are as follows: The policy of democratization should be adopted in policy-making of international affairs, the sovereignty of every country should be respected and the new order in international relations should be established. Disputes in Latin American region should be resolved on the principle of peace. The creditor and debtor countries should undertake joint responsibilities in solving the debt issues, and it should be solved as a political question through talks. Political dialogues should be conducted with the industrialized countries, and the integration in the Latin America Region and international trade should be promoted and trade protectionism should be opposed, environment protected and the anti-drug struggles carried out resolutely.
During 11 -12 October 1989, the 3rd summit meeting was convened in Ica, Peru. At the meeting, the "Ica Statement" adopted, pointed out explicitly that the foreign debt issues were the most serious problems that the Latin America countries were facing now and should be solved quickly. The statement reiterated that all countries should try their best to carry out struggles against Drug-smuggling and being addicted to narcotics and to accelerate peace process in the Central America.
During 10 - 12 October 1990, the 4th summit meeting was held in Caracas, Capital of Honduras. Adopted at the meeting were such documents as the "Caracas Statement", the "Final Document" and the "Joint Statement for Anti-drugs", the "Environmental Issues", "Some Suggestions to the Association for the Integration of the Latin America", etc. The statements reiterated to consolidate the process of democratization, to support and push ahead the Latin American integration, and strengthen regional cooperation in the fields of energy resources and raw materials. It also supported the "Proposal for the American Affairs" brought forward by Bush, President of the USA. The statements stressed that the realization of the "Proposal" is based on the development of a just relation in this hemisphere, and should be harmonized with the efforts for the Latin American integration and cooperation.
During 2 - 3 December 1991, the 5th summit meeting was convened in Cartagena, Colombia. Discussions were carried out extensively on such important issues as politics, economy and new international political and economic order, etc, and reached a consensus on these questions. The statement on the Cuban and Haiti issues was unanimously adopted, which reiterated to carry out strictly the resolution of the American States to put embargo on Haiti until the lawful rights for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide were restored. Cuba was required to carry out reform in a peaceful atmosphere in order to realize democracy, justice and human rights, and develop a liberal economy, and the Group was willing to cooperate with Cuba. The final statement made at the meeting stressed that in the current international situation, it was necessary to inject more vitality into the UN, and transform its main bodies so as to make it work in a more balanced and effective way in expressing the wishes of all member states. It hoped that the Rio Group would work jointly with the international community to convene in a better way the summit meeting environment and development, and requested the developed countries to adopt more measures to protect environment. It also appealed to the USA to take more realistic actions in realizing the "Proposal for the American Affairs". The meeting expressed its wishes to give an imptus to the process of the Latin American integration so as to realize the goal of setting up a free trade zone in this hemisphere.
During 1 - 2 December 1992, the 6th summit meeting was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The presidents attending the meeting had discussions with depth on the questions of consolidating the political system of democracy, developing economy, promoting the social stability, speeding up the process of integration and maintaining the rights and interests of the Latin American countries, and reached a consensus, and issued the "Buenos Aires Statement" after the meeting.
During 15 - 16 October 1993, the 7th summit meeting was held in Santiago, the capital city of Chile. The presidents attending the meeting had more extensive and in-depth discussions in so far as how to consolidate democratic political system, eliminate poverty, realize a balanced social and economic development, push ahead the regional integration, promote liberal trade, oppose trade protectionism and fortify the dialogues with the countries and group of countries outside the region. A consensus on these issues was reached at the meeting and the "Santiago Statement" was issued in the end.
During 9 - 10 September 1994, the 8th summit meeting was convened in Rio de Janeiro, the capital city of Brazil. It was convened at the time when the USA was about to dispatch its troops to Haiti, the disturbance over the question of immigrants between the USA and Cuba was re-occurring and President Bill Clinton proposed to convene the "summit meeting of the American countries" in Miami by the end of the year. The discussions held at the meeting focused on the Cuban question, crisis in Haiti and how to consolidate democracy and develop the regional economic integration as well as the questions concerning the summit meeting of the American countries and the UN reforms. Announced at the meeting were the three documents: the "Statement of Rio de Janeiro", the "Statement on Cuban Issue" and the "Statement on the Situation in Haiti".
During 4 - 5 September 1995, the 9th summit meeting was held at Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. The meeting issued the "Quito Statement" and other three documents in regard with social development, the establishment of a working group for the regional integration, the support for Ernesto Samper Pizano, President of Colombia in his effective struggle against Drug-smuggling. The main theme of the meeting centered on strengthening the democratic system, and promoting peace and development. The meeting expressed its satisfaction with the consolidation of the democratic systems in the Latin America area, it believed that corruption, Drug-smuggling and terrorism are the major factors affecting the stability of the Latin American society; it stressed that corruption weakened the lawfulness of democracy, damaged the prestige of the democratic system, and was, therefore, the main factor leading to the disruption of the society. It reminded all countries of drawing the lessons from the Mexican financial crisis when they draw in foreign capital for the development of national economy, and adopting necessary measures to prevent the speculative "swallow-flying style" foreign capital from doing harm to their own economies. The meeting also supported the proposal by the Latin American Parliament about establishing the Latin American community, coordinated the policies in developing the relations with the European Union, and intended to seek the way for clearing the barriers between them in trade and investment.
During 3 - 4 September 1996, the 10th summit meeting was convened in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The meeting centered its discussions on consolidating democracy, eliminating poverty, sustainable development, regional integration, drug-banning, Holmes-Burton Act and other important problems that the Latin America was faced with. At the meeting the "Statement for the 10th Anniversary of the Founding of the Rio Group" was passed; the meeting strongly opposed Holmes-Burton Act, pointing out that "the act goes against the principle of mutual co-existence between the different countries, disregards the principle of respecting the sovereignty and tramps underfoot the international law". The meeting appealed to the international community to strengthen the dialogues and cooperation in the anti-drug struggle, and laid a stress on the principle of "sharing the responsibilities" by all countries in narcotic production and consumption. A "comprehensive strategy" is required to be adopted in anti-drug struggle by paying full attention to economic and social factors so as to provide opportunity for the better life of the rural areas affected by the anti-drug struggle. It also reiterated the proposal to establish an "open-door, equal and transparent" multi-trade system and the pledge to set up an American free trade zone before 2005. The meeting specially pointed out that during the past 10 years, the Rio Group had worked in the interest of the Latin American and Caribbean countries in maintaining the unity and cooperation between the countries in this region. The member countries of the Rio Group would continue to strengthen the consultations and coordination between them so as to play a bigger role in the international arena.
During 23 - 24 August 1997, the 11th summit meeting was held in Asuncion, the capital city of Paraguay. The meeting discussed the problems about how to consolidate the democratic constitutional system in Latin American and Caribbean countries, accelerate the regional economic integration, maintain the regional security and fight against the drug-smuggling and terrorist activities. Issued at the meeting were the "Asuncion Statement", the "Statement Regarding the Maintenance of Democracy", the "Statement Regarding the Strengthening of the reform of the UN and its Security Council" and the "Statement about Adopting Unilateral Measures". The main contents of the four statements are: 1. To stress the importance of continuously maintaining democracy and further improvement of the democratic system, holding that the progress of a stable social and economic development is the basis of the consolidation of democracy. It is necessary to supervise over the democracy practiced under the constitutional system and to strengthen the democratic system through education. The statements put forward a proposal that an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of the member states be called to consider the problem that arises when any member country went against its constitutional order. 2. It praised the general tendency achieved during recent years by the Latin American and the Caribbean areas in the harmonious development of the regional economic integration. In addition to the expansion of trade in the course of integration, the statements also pointed out that it should also benefit the harmonious development of different social stratums and the development of the whole area. It reiterated that the year of 2005 was the deadline for completing the talks on the establishment of the Latin American free trade zone and the Rio Group Foreign Ministers Meeting are authorized to work out a common strategy. 3. It considered that in recent years the political dialogues conducted between this region and the European Union had been conducive to the strengthening of the bilateral ties, and the building up of a new mechanism, it agreed to call a summit meeting of the Latin America and the European Union. 4. It opposed the practice of unilateralism in handling diplomatic matters and reiterated the principle of adhering honestly to the multilateral-ism, especially the principle of equality of sovereignty and lawful status and mutual respect. It also opposed carrying out unilaterally the laws of a certain country of a definite area in handling the matters of trade, human rights, seizing narcotics and environmental protections, and once again criticized Holmes-Burton Act imposed by the USA on Cuba. 5. It held that the UN systems should be adapted to the new needs of the international community through reform that would make it possible the extensive participation of the Latin American countries. The change of its unbalanced structure, strengthening of transparency in its work, and increasing the members of the UN Security Council should take into account the representation of the Latin American and the Caribbean areas. 6. It reiterated its willingness to fight Drug-smuggling, pointing out that the anti-drug struggle that should be carried out under the principle of respecting the laws of all countries and the international treaties, calls for the joint efforts of the whole western hemisphere. It also reiterated the drug-consuming countries should undertake more commitments for the anti-drug struggle. 7. It reiterated its satisfaction over the fight against terrorism and the successful solution to the Peru hostage issue. 8. It expressed its satisfaction with the fact that the international agreement in combat against corruption had come into force. In addition to that, it called for the solution of the regional issue of immigrants, and appealed to the international community to participate in the peace process in Guatemala, calling for the curbing of the possible occurrence of armament race in this region.
During 4 - 5 September 1998, the 12th summit meeting was convened in the Panama City, the capital of Panama. The meeting focused on such important issues as regional democracy, safety and peace, sustainable development, economic integration, international financial situation, prospect of regional trade, the future mechanism of the Rio Group, combat against drugs and eliminating poverty, and the issues concerning the future development of the Latin America. The "Panama Statement" was published at the end of the meeting. The presidents of all countries present at the meeting unanimously urged all countries in Latin America to effectively check the conventional arms, and decided to strengthen the Western Hemisphere Committee of the American States Organization. The meeting appealed to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the America Development Bank and the governments of the developed countries to adopt effective measures to prevent and check the further worsening of the international financial situation. The meeting also opposed Homlmes-Burton Act and the annual appraisal made by the USA on the anti-drug struggles of other countries.
In April, 2002, the 16th Summit was held in San José, capital city of Costa Rica. The theme of the summit was family, anti-poverty and situation in Venezuela. "Statement on the Situation in Venezuela" was issued, which expressed regret over the violent conflicts happening in Venezuela and urged the country to restore its democratic system as early as possible. During the summit, all the countries reiterated their commitment to safeguarding democracy and human rights, joining in the cooperation of fighting terrorism and eliminating drugs, supporting international disarmament and waging struggle against corruption; issued "San José Statement" and "Statement on the Situation in the Middle East". The summit called on developed countries to open more markets to developing countries, withdraw unfair protective measures, reduce and remit debts and work hard to establish an efficient mechanism to resist financial crisis. The summit pointed out that poverty and social injustice posed potential threat to stability, that anti-poverty had become the shared responsibility for the entire globe, and that free trade was the basis for resolving the problem of poverty and therefore it agreed to establish a body for cooperation in poverty alleviation. It also emphasized fighting international terrorism must be in conformity with respecting human rights, international humanism and the principles of the UN.
Relations between China and the Rio Group: In 1990, the Rio Group established the dialogue relationships with China. On 26 September of the same year, Qian Qichen, Chinese foreign minister had for the first time a dialogue in New York with the foreign ministers of the member countries of the Group. The two sides exchanged in an extensive way the views on the current international situation, the relations between China and the Latin America, and other questions of common interest, and decided to hold irregular talks between them in the future.
In September 1991, the 2nd dialogue was held between Chinese foreign minister Qian Qichen and the foreign ministers of the Rio Group in New York. The two sides exchanged with breadth and depth their views on international questions of common interest, such as the present international situation, the situation in Latin America, the establishment of a new international political and economic order, and the further development and cooperation between China and the Latin America.
In September 1993, Qian Qichen, Vice-premier and Foreign Minister held a third dialogue with the foreign ministers of the Rio Group while attending the 48th UN assembly. The two sides had a discussion, exchanging the views with breadth and depth over the questions of common interest such as international and regional situation, internal reform of the United Nations, the role and prospect of the APEC, the political, economic and trade cooperation between China and Latin America.
During 16 - 17 August 1994, the "Symposium on Economy and Trade between China and the Rio Group" was held in Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil. A Chinese delegation headed by Wang Zhibao, Vice-minister of Forestry attended the meeting. In the meantime, the two sides had an earnest and down-to-earth probe into the problems as regards developing political and economic relations, promoting economic and trade, scientific and technological cooperation between China and Latin America. In September of the same year, Qian Qichen, Vice-premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs had a fourth dialogue with some of the Foreign Ministers of the Rio Group while attending the UN assembly. The two sides held an extensive and in-depth exchange of the views on the questions of common interest, such as the situation in Latin America, relationship between China and the Latin American countries, society and development as well as the 4th World Women's Congress, etc.
In September 1995, Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen had a fifth dialogue with some of the Foreign Ministers of the Rio Group while attending the UN assembly. The two sides had positive discussions on the further development of relations between China and Latin America, the expansion of mutual cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, and science and technology. Both sides also exchanged the views on regional situation and international issues of common interest.
During 14 - 25 January 1996, the symposium on the scientific and technological cooperation between China and the Rio Group was held in Beijing. Present at the symposium were 12 members from the 8 countries of Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay and Ecuador. In September of the same year, Vice President and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen held a sixth dialogue with the Foreign Ministers of the Rio Group.
In September 1997, Vice Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, held a seventh dialogue with the foreign ministers of the Rio Group, present at which were the foreign minister of Paraguay, the rotating presidency of the presiding-over country and ministers of other member countries of the Rio Group. The two sides exchanged their views on the issues of common interest.
In September 1998, the 8th political dialogue took place between Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and the Foreign Ministers of the Rio Group while attending the UN conference. Present at the meeting for dialogue were the Foreign Minister of Panama, the rotating presidency of the presiding-over country and the Foreign Ministers of other countries. The two sides expressed their willingness to work together to continuously enrich the contents and ways for the dialogue so as to establish a long and stable friendly cooperative relationships between the two sides.
On September 22, 1999, the ninth political dialogue was held in New York between Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and the Foreign Ministers of the member countries of the Rio Group. Present at the meeting was the Foreign Minister of Brazil, the country on duty by turn, and the Foreign Ministers of other member countries. The two sides expressed the willingness to further their cooperation in the fields of politics, economy and trade so as to establish and develop comprehensive and friendly cooperative relationship.
The year 2000 marked the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the dialogue mechanism between China and the Rio Group. At the invitation of Chines Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, the Foreign Ministers Filnandes, Green and Solada, respectively from Colombia, Mexico and Chile, "the Tripartite Coach", collectively visited China from July 31 to August 3. Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Premier Zhu Rongji, and State Councilor Wu Yi received the foreign guests respectively. Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan also held talks with the three Foreign Ministers. During the meetings, China spoke highly of the positive role the Rio Group had played in the regional and international affairs, and expressed the willingness to further strengthen mutual dialogue and cooperation. The three Foreign Ministers of the Rio Group delivered speeches at the meeting, during which Colombian Foreign Minister gave a lecture entitled "Relations between Latin American and Caribbean Region and China – Common Wishes for Integration and Cooperation".
In September 2000, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan held the tenth political dialogue in New York with the Foreign Ministers of the Rio Group. Present at the dialogue were the Foreign Minister Filnandes of Colombia, the rotating presidency of the presiding-over country, and the Foreign Ministers or representatives of other member countries of the Rio Group. The two sides expressed their willingness to further strengthen bilateral dialogue and coordinate mutual cooperation, and work together in an effort to raise the relationship between China and the Rio Group to a new height.
In Sept. 2002, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan held the 12th political dialogue with the foreign ministers of member states of the Group of Rio during the 57th General Assembly of the UN. Costa Rican foreign minister, chairman in rotation of the Group of Rio, and foreign ministers or representatives of other members of this group participated in the dialogue. Both sides exchanged views on Sino-Latin American relations and international issues of common concern.