[News] Venezuela and ALBA Promote “New Climate” in Summit of the Americas

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 22 11:26:52 EDT 2009

Venezuela and ALBA Promote “New Climate” in Summit of the Americas

April 21st 2009, by Tamara Pearson – Venezuelanalysis.com

Merida, April 21st 2009 (Venezuelanlaysis.com) -- 
Venezuela and the countries of the Bolivarian 
Alternative to the Americas (ALBA) decided not to 
sign the final document of the Summit of the 
Americas held on April 17-19 in Trinidad and 
Tobago, saying it excluded Cuba and offered no 
viable solution to the current economic crisis.

The economic blockade of Cuba imposed by the 
United States was one of the most anticipated 
themes of the summit, in which 34 heads of state 
across the North and South American continent 
participated, with the notable exception of Cuba, 
whose president was not invited.

The dynamics of the summit were somewhat 
different compared to previous summits, as ALBA 
countries worked together to assert the needs of 
Latin America, whilst the new president of the 
United States, Barack Obama, was also more respectful to the other countries.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said, "Of the 
three Summits of the Americas that I have been 
to, the first was cold, behind a wall and driven 
by imperialism and everyone else was quiet, 
except Venezuela. Later, in the Mar del Plata [in 
Argentina, 2005] the summit ended up fragmented 
in pieces, but we defeated FTAA [Free Trade Area 
of the Americas],  now this summit has opened the 
gates to a new era of relationships between all 
the countries of this continent."

Chávez said that although this meeting hadn't 
been perfect, cordiality had reigned and that "it 
has finished with success and with a new climate."

However, Chávez criticized the nature the summit, 
saying, "Someone notes all these proposals and 
later comes the big question, who is in charge of 
carrying them out? This is one of the failures of 
all these summits over the last few years, the 
incapacity to put projects into practice."

ALBA countries who attended the Summit (Bolivia, 
Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and 
the Grenadines, and Venezuela) had previously 
decided at their conference, held just days 
before in Venezuela, not to sign the final 
document of the Summit, the Declaration of Trinidad and Tobago.

The 22 page document, with 99 points, in general 
favors the private sector and its development, 
promotes the production of bio-fuels and the 
increasing of credit lines to business, amongst other things.

In a joint statement about the document, ALBA 
countries said that it "offers no answers to the 
...global economic crisis" and "unjustifiably 
excludes Cuba...without mentioning the general 
consensus ... in the region in favor of 
condemning the blockade." ALBA then proposed 
alternative themes for discussion, including 
problems caused by capitalism, climate change and 
the food and energy crises and the need for solidarity not competition.

Chávez said the document is "totally 
de-contextualized, as if time hasn't passed," and 
complained specifically about its characterization of Cuba as non-democratic.

"Where is there more democracy, in the United 
States or in Cuba? Who has the democracy 
meter?... I have no doubt that there is more 
democracy in Cuba than in the United States," said Chávez.

Chávez justified ALBA's rejection of the 
declaration to the press saying, "It is a 
sovereign decision and it forms part of the 
battle that we are waging from ALBA, not only of 
resistance to imperialism and its hegemony, but 
also with viable proposals and in full construction of a better world."

"The Summit of the Americas was born to try to 
impose the FTAA and it failed," Chávez said, 
referring to the previous summit in Argentina in 
2005. In this case Chávez signed the final 
declaration but expressed reservations around the 
point on free trade. Venezuela created ALBA with 
Cuba in 2004 as a counter project to the FTAA.

In the end, only the prime minister of Trinidad 
and Tobago, Patrick Manning, signed the 
declaration, saying that whilst there wasn't 
unanimity around the content of the document, 
there was a consensus that he should be the only one to sign it.

Another highlight of the conference was the 
resumption of US-Venezuela relations and a 
resumed cordiality between the presidents of 
those countries, Chávez and the newly elected Barack Obama.

Chávez said "we affirmed a desire to initiate a 
new stage of relations. The president of the 
Unites States said that he would keep his word to 
not interfere in the internal issues of any 
country and we agree that we want to work together."

Various presidents also expressed hopes that the 
summit would mark new relations between the 
United States and the rest of Latin America, 
especially given the new president of the US.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said, "[The 
Summit] was a fantastic meeting, we understand it 
as ... the start of a new type of relationship. 
There was an environment of ...optimism and high hopes."

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said he felt 
the main achievement of the summit was "open, frank, and friendly dialogue."

Speaking about the theme of energy security 
discussed at the summit, Chávez said, "We're 
prepared to continue with initiatives like 
Petrocaribe, the gas pipeline of the South, 
promoting renewable energy... and to continue 
doing our part because we have the biggest 
reserve of petroleum and one of the largest 
reserves of gas. We propose a true energy revolution across the continent."

In his intervention in the conference, Chávez 
expressed his concern about the resurgence of 
economic forms of intervention. "Be careful with 
the International Monetary Fund [IMF] because 
they have revived it...In Latin America the IMF 
was the big destabilizer of the region," he said.

Chávez also alluded to the "media terrorism of 
the powerful elites against the state," giving 
the example of the recent assassination attempts 
towards Bolivian president Evo Morales, and said 
these efforts reflect a form of fascism in the region.

After the summit, Chávez classified Venezuela's 
participation as "one of the biggest victories of 
our history" because of the positions it defended 
of resistance, dignity, sovereignty and independence.

He said he was happy about what is happening in 
Latin America and the Caribbean where "Bolivarian 
unity is being consolidated, the dream of San 
Martin, Bolívar and Artigas; only united will we 
be free and be able to talk on an equal footing 
and with dignity with the powers of the world, 
this has started to become reality in these latest meetings and summits."

Chávez proposed the next summit be held in Havana, Cuba.

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