Seventh ALBA Summit Prioritises the Planet and Developing Nations
By Tamara Pearson
October 19th 2009 - Venezuelanalysis.com
The 7th Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA) Summit, from 16-17 October, concluded with a call to respect the rights of "mother earth", steps to apply the common currency "Sucre", a meeting with social movement representatives, a proposal for a climate justice tribunal, and support for the legitimate president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.
Participating in the conference were presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Hugo Chavez of Venezulea, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, prime ministers Roosevelt Skerit of Dominica, Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, Ralph Gonsalvez of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the vice president of Cuba's ministers' council, Jose Ramon.
Sucre currency and trade
ALBA countries signed an agreement to implement the common currency "Sucre" (Unified System of Compensation of Reciprocal Payments). The point of the new currency is to use it instead of the U.S dollar for commercial exchange between member countries.
The idea of this common currency has been on the table for around a year now, when it was considered in the extraordinary ALBA summit in November 2008 in Caracas. In April this year, Venezuelan economics minister, Ali Rodriguez, said it was hoped to begin an experimental phase with the currency at the end of this year, to then fully implement it from 2010.
Chavez, in his weekly column, emphasised that the currency constitutes a system of "fair trade" and distances Latin American countries from "hegemonic capitalism" and applauded that now, through ALBA, it is becoming a "tangible and concrete reality'.
The summit also agreed to create an export-import company, ALBAEXIM, in order to establish a mechanism for trade complementarity between ALBA countries. The final document convokes a range of ministers to meet and form "super-national" (gran-nacional) companies in sectors such as steel, geological mapping "of our resources", energy, and forestry, and approves a plan of actions for commercial developing in the economic zone of the Trade Treaty of the Peoples (TCP).
Political and climate resolutions
Morales proposed the creation of a climate justice tribunal that judges and sanctions those who don't keep their environmental commitments. The final document said such a tribunal would also aim to make "developed countries pay their climate debt and effectively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions." The tribunal will be made up of representatives of developing countries, "who will take on the task of judging those responsible for the climate crisis that our planet is living."
Regarding Honduras, ALBA resolved that no member country will allow any representatives of the de facto government to enter their country, and again demanded the restitution of President Manuel Zelaya, who was forcibly removed from his position during a coup in June.
Chavez said, "I don't know what's going to happen in Honduras, but the people have a right to resist, be it armed."
Then, speaking of Barack Obama, Chavez said the winner "of the Nobel Peace Prize needs to remember the seven bases in Colombia," bases run by the United States as part of a policy that he said was "an attempt to convert Colombia into the Israel of Latin America".
During a press conference at the ALBA Summit, Chavez responded to accusations that Venezuela will send uranium to Iran and that it wants to construct an atomic bomb, "Venezuela will never make an atomic bomb. That's a defamation campaign against countries who want to develop themselves. France has atomic bombs... so [the press] are going to accuse us of exploiting uranium... we've barely discovered it [in Venezuela] and the war against our country has begun."
Chavez suggested that those countries that have atomic bombs get rid of them, and said uranium is a "strategic" mineral that has other uses other than weapons, such as the generation of nuclear power.
Jesse Chacon, minister for Science and Technology said at the start of this month that Russia will lend technological support to Venezuela in the treatment of the uranium.
The final declaration
The 66-point final declaration approved by all member countries begins with an analysis and criticism of capitalism, its "maximum expression, imperialism", climate change, the food crisis, the energy crisis and the financial crisis. Then it looks at how such crises can and should be solved or dealt with. Then it talks about migration, saying that it's not a crime and examining its causes. Next, it supports the strengthening of Latin American exchange and cooperation, and condemns the US run bases in Colombia and the US economic blockade on Cuba.
The second part of the document notes concrete agreements, ratifies the continuity of various cross-country programs such as the literacy program and the ALBA bank, gives instructions to different councils within ALBA (such as the social council, social programs, politics council, economy council) to follow up various agreements and resolves to form a ministerial council of women and equal opportunities, as well as a sovereignty and defence council, to define "popular defence strategy" and form a School of Dignity and Sovereignty of the Armed Forces of ALBA countries.
Social movements participation
Two days before the heads of states started meeting, social movements began meeting in Cochabamba, as part of the ALBA conference and as one of the councils of the alliance.
There were over 700 delegates from 40 countries, who presented their final declaration to heads of state on Saturday in a large celebration in Stadium Felix Capriles in Cochabamba.
Telesur reported that the II Round of Commerce also took place in Cochabamba and to coincide with ALBA. It aims to promote more commercial exchange within Latin American countries. Bolivian and Venezuelan state owned companies made an agreement involving around $100 million worth in intentions to buy.
In his weekly column, Chavez said the ALBA summit, rather than being just another summit, gives "continuity to, and matures the unity process".
ALBA was created in 2004, initially just between Cuba and Venezuela, to counter U.S free trade agreements and to normalise trade between Latin American countries.
The next ALBA summit will be held in Cuba, where it will commemorate its 5th anniversary.