Obrador pitches regional bloc for Latin America

Mexico's president suggested Latin American and Caribbean nations form a bloc similar to the European Union.

While at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit in Mexico City on Saturday, host President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said regional powers should consolidate.

''It is time to end the lethargy and establish a new and vigourous relationship between the people of America. It seems to me that it is time to replace the policy of blockades and mistreatment, with the option of respecting each other, walking together and associating ourselves for the good of America, without violating our sovereignty.''

Leftist leaders in the region gathered at the invitation of Lopez Obrador with the stated aim of weakening the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS).

Notably in attendance was Venezeula's Nicolas Maduro, Peru's new president, Pedro Castillo, and Cuba's Miguel Diaz-Canel.

For years, leaders have expressed concern that the OAS is too close to the United States and have resented its exclusion of Cuba from its member states.

Lopez Obrador told more than a dozen leaders that forming a new body could boost the region's unstable economies and empower countries to confront health and other crises.

A new CELAC fund was also announced at the summit, to respond to natural disasters.