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ALBA celebrates 10th anniversary

News from Nicaragua | Monday, 15 December 2014 |

700,000 Nicaraguans were among the five million people in ten countries who participated in ALBA literacy programmes. Credit: Jenny Matthews

700,000 Nicaraguans were among the five million people in ten countries who participated in ALBA literacy programmes. Credit: Jenny Matthews

The Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) celebrated its 10th anniversary on 14 December in Havana.

The Summit condemned the destabilising US attacks on Cuba and Venezuela, announced new economic integration measures, welcomed two new members, St. Kitts & Nevis and Grenada and paid tribute to ALBA founders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

"Exactly a decade ago, ALBA was born in Havana as the result of the political vision and unifying will of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, the authors of this era of changes that today all our peoples and their political elites are experiencing," said Cuban President Raul Castro, the host of the Summit.

The main participants in the conference were presidents of the Bolivarian alliance - including Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro, Bolivia's Evo Morales and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega – along with heads of the Caribbean nations of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Ecuador was represented by vice president, Jorge Glas.

President Castro highlighted the political, economic and social successes of ALBA.

Politically, ALBA countries form a powerful regional bloc to put forward progressive positions on key regional and international issues; a voice that is heard and recognised internationally in defence of just causes.

Many social programmes have reached far beyond ALBA countries, For example, three million people in ten countries have had their eyesight restored thanks to Operacion Milagro; five million people in 18 countries have participated in the ‘Yo si puedo’ literacy programme.

In spite of difficulties and the global crisis there have been significant economic advances: the creation of a new currency the SUCRE and the ALBA bank have contributed to the construction of a new regional financial architecture.

The Summit issued a 43-point declaration that included expressions of solidarity for Venezuela and Cuba in the face of destabilising attacks by the US, and condemnation of the economic embargo on Cuba and new sanctions imposed by the US on Venezuela.

"The countries of ALBA will not allow the utilisation of policies … directed towards fostering political regime change, as has occurred in other nations of the world," the document stated.

The Cuban president announced that in the spirit of building a "new financial architecture," the bloc will push for a "complementary economic zone" to integrate ALBA, PetroCaribe and Mercosur nations, a project promoted by Venezuela. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro referred to the Zone as "a great economic zone of production chains, fair and balanced commerce, investment and technological advancements."

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*ALBA was set up as an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a US attempt to establish the world’s largest trading bloc by swallowing up the 34 countries of the America, a proposal described by Bolivian president Evo Morales as ‘a proposal to legalise the colonisation of the America’. The FTAA was finally buried in a humiliating defeat for the Bush administration at the 2005 summit of the Americas.

ALBA is a political, economic and social alliance that comprises Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. ALBA means day break, hope, a new opportunity for Latin American nations to turn trade into a tool to combat poverty and ensure a more just distribution of wealth, not just at national level but across Latin America. It is based on relationships among countries that promote the values of solidarity, complementary action, cooperation and respect of national sovereignty.