Mérida, December 12, 2021 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan government has called on the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP) to draw up “commercial, financial and monetary plans” to strengthen post-pandemic economic development.
The proposal came during ALBA’s XX Summit in Havana, Cuba on Tuesday. The gathering likewise commemorated seventeen years since Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro founded the multilateral organization in 2004. It followed the XIX Summit held earlier this year in Caracas.
The latest summit was attended by the presidents of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia, respectively, as well as by high-level delegations from ALBA members Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Granada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia, which returned to the body this year after a left victory in its July elections. Delegations from non-members Haiti, Syria and Surinam were present as well.
The economy was top on the meeting’s agenda, with a number of representatives focusing on both the reactivation of their productive apparatus and debt relief after the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I request that we make a new and stronger effort to articulate comprehensive plans for economic, commercial, financial, and monetary development between ALBA nations,” said Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro during the encounter. “We need to generate wealth in order to be able to distribute it,” he continued, encouraging “new investment to produce food, oil, gas, everything our peoples need.”
Equally, Bolivia’s president and economist Luis Arce, who brought 20 tons of humanitarian assistance to Havana, proposed creating two additional “gran-national” enterprises to produce food and medicine. Gran-national enterprises are mixed firms which operate under ALBA control across various countries. They are based on core values of solidarity and fair distribution instead of profit-making.
“It is time to push together, to sum up our forces. It is time to show solidarity, and Bolivia proposes and accepts the responsibility for drawing up a strategic plan to develop our economies,” Arce told those present, while also calling for the jumpstarting of ALBA financial arms such as the ALBA Bank and Sucre currency.
The summit’s final statement echoed the calls, as well as establishing “a more complete mechanism to alleviate foreign debt for developing countries, as well as the writing-off or refinancing of debt (and) the democratic transformation of international financial organizations.”
PetroCaribe distributed crude and fuel to Caribbean nations under long-term and low-interest payment agreements. The project was halted in 2018 as US sanctions severely hit Venezuela’s struggling oil sector. On Tuesday, the Venezuelan president stated that the flagship initiative will “return stronger-than-ever sooner rather than later.” Maduro had previously promised the project would be relaunched in the first half of 2020.
Counter-Intervention Observatory established
The ALBA Summit went on to take aim at US intervention in the region, blasting the “genocidal” blockade against Cuba and the “massive, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights” through unilateral coercive measures against a number of the alliance’s members.
“Not even a thousand sanctions will defeat the dignity of the Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and Cuban people,” said Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel at the meeting.
From Cuba, ALBA Executive Secretary Sacha Llorenti unveiled a Counter-Intervention Observatory which will reportedly look to “periodically analyze the role of non-governmental organizations and funding in destabilizing efforts,” as well as study how the “neoliberal coercive measures” are being levied against member nations.
The observatory comes as a response to Washington’s Summit for Democracy last week, which unveiled over US $424 million of funding for the region. According to US President Joe Biden, the resources will be channeled into media projects, “defending free and fair elections and political processes,” fighting corruption, “bolstering democratic reformers” and “advancing technology for democracy.” Most ALBA nations were not invited to Washington’s virtual gathering, and Managua, Havana, La Paz and Caracas have all accused Washington of funding destabilization efforts in their countries of late.
ALBA fights the Covid-19 pandemic
The fight against the coronavirus pandemic was also high on the agenda in Havana, with member nations congratulating the island on developing its three vaccines, as well as recognizing the efforts of the ALBA Bank in creating a vaccine bank and Venezuela’s CONVIASA airline for setting up air-bridges between member states. Likewise, the summit saluted the region’s healthcare workers for their frontline work.
For his part, recently re-elected Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega used the opportunity to blast “US imperialism,” claiming that in addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, “savage capitalism and imperialism is the worst pandemic the world has suffered.”
Other issues discussed included backing the Caribbean’s historic claims to compensation for the “genocide” and “horrors” of the slave trade; pushing for “more ambitious” commitments on climate change after a “disappointing” COP26 Summit in Glasgow; and congratulating recent leftwing electoral victories in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Venezuela and Honduras.