Nation gears for summit of 32 visiting heads of state

Officials are preparing to host 32 heads of state for the third annual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

This is the organization set up in part by Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez as a competitor to the Organization of American States. The United States and Canada are not members.

Meetings will be from Jan. 24 to Jan. 29, and the heads of state will be here Jan. 28 and 29. Costa Rica assumed the presidency of the organization in Havana last January. Ecuador takes over the leadership during the session here. Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, was here Wednesday discussing the transition with Manuel González, the minister of Relaciones Exteriores.

Security officials say they are fielding 750 officers and 500 vehicles to guard the visitors. The organization is called Celac for short. That is derived from the Spanish name, the Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños.

About half the countries involved have English as the local language.

Celso Gamboa Sánchez, the security minister, said the police effort was 30 times greater than any before. And he specifically included the visit by Barack Obama, the president of the United States.

Expats probably should plan on avoiding the metro area, if possible those two days as well as the highway from Juan Santamaría airport.

When the summit took place last year in Havana, as delegates talked about human rights, the Cuban government detained a number of democracy advocates.

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