Thursday, 31 December 2009

Report from Cuba: ALBA Summit in Havana

The summit in Havana on 13-14 December marked 5 years of the existence of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) which was set up between Venezuela and Cuba. In these first 5 years ALBA has committed to a political, economic and social alliance to defend the sovereignty, self-determination, identity and unity of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean. Practicing the principles of political and economic solidarity, there are already over 100 ALBA projects involving healthcare, media, food and fuel distribution, scientific projects and environmental protection.

The Alliance now includes Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Ecuador, St Vincent and Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and, until the recent coup, Honduras. Paraphrasing the well-known phrase of Karl Marx, Granma, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba, quips that “a spectre is haunting America. the spectre of ALBA” yet ALBA is more than a spectre, it is real, developing in the face of the global capitalist crisis.

ALBA initiated to counter the US imperialism's Free Trade Area of the Americas, a failed project now buried under the triumphs of ALBA in many of the member states. The mutually beneficial trade of oil and other materials between ALBA countries, below world prices is of particular concern to the imperialists, as is the birth of the new SUCRE currency this January 2010, which will allow trade between ALBA countries without reliance on the US dollar.

It is in this context that recent US military manoeuvres must be understood. The Democrat government treading water in the turbulent time of the global economic crisis, is launching a new offensive in Latin America. Not content with sending another 30,000 soldiers to Afghanistan, and shortly after winning the Nobel Peace prize, Obama has signed a pact to establish 7 new military bases in Columbia, mainly along the Venezuelan border. Tacit US support for the current coup in Honduras and the re-establishment of the US’s Fourth Fleet to patrol the Caribbean and South American waters, signifies US intentions in the region.

An attack on Venezuela could seriously damage the development of ALBA as many initiatives are funded through the Bank of ALBA, 85% of which is funded by oil rich Venezuela. However, such aggression will be met with fierce resistance. In response to these actions, Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, called for a referendum to discuss action against the development of US military bases in the region. The “Mandatario Boliviano” emphasizes the need to be “prepared along with our people for any imperial aggression or invasion” and Morales declared that “If the US invades any of our countries they will face a second Vietnam!”

Almost all of the speeches made throughout the 2 day summit condemned the coup in Honduras, demanding the acknowledgement of US support for the illegal actions and blatant disregard for constitutional rights. The 8th Summit of ALBA declared solidarity with the National Resistance Front and others bravely resisting the coup in Honduras in spite of the daily disappearances and massacres of protestors. This statement came alongside declarations for the right of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to defend itself from US military aggression, condemnation of the economic blockade of Cuba and solidarity for the Cuban 5 who remain incarcerated in the US for over 10 years after foiling a terrorist plot against their country.

Sam Magill

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