[News] Honduras Withdraws from ALBA, El Salvador Won’t Join Despite FMLN Support

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 18 10:46:15 EST 2010

Honduras Withdraws from ALBA, El Salvador Won’t Join Despite FMLN Support

January 15th 2010, by James Suggett - Venezuelanalysis.com

Mérida, January 15th 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) 
– On Tuesday, the Honduran Congress voted to 
withdraw from the Venezuela-led trade bloc called 
the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), 
and on Wednesday, Salvadoran President Mauricio 
Funes announced that his government will not align with the bloc.

Venezuela and Cuba initiated the now eight-member 
ALBA group in 2004 to create a mechanism of 
international trade based on mutual benefit and 
cooperation rather than profit and the free 
market. Honduras’s entrance into the bloc in 2008 
under the leadership of President Manuel Zelaya 
is considered to be one of the motivations for 
the right wing military coup that kidnapped and expelled Zelaya last June.

The Honduran Congress, which is controlled by 
coup supporters from the centrist Liberal Party 
and other right wing parties, voted 122 to 5 in 
favor of the country’s withdrawal. The Congress 
also granted the status of legislator-for-life to 
Roberto Michelleti, who led the coup and headed 
the post-coup regime, rendering Michelleti immune 
from legal prosecution for the coup and its aftermath.

Michelleti handed over power to another coup 
supporter and right wing party leader Porfirio 
Lobo following elections in November that were 
marked by widespread violent state repression and 
massive voter abstention, according to 
international human rights observers. Most 
countries except for the United States refused to 
recognize the coup regime as well as the elections.

Rafael Pineda, spokesperson for the coup 
government, said commercial relations will 
continue between Honduras and ALBA member 
countries on a country-by-country basis, and that 
Honduras will continue to participate in 
Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program, through which 
nearly 20 countries receive Venezuelan oil on 
low, flexible, long-term interest rates.

As a member of ALBA, Honduras received tractors 
and grants for rural development, and accrued $80 
million in debt, which Honduras will pay off over 
the next quarter century, according to ALBA terms 
and conditions, according to Vice Finance Minister Hugo Castillo.

Rafael Alegría, a leader of the Honduran 
resistance which has led ongoing street protests 
and suffered deadly repression since the coup, 
said the coup was aimed at restoring Honduras’s 
role as a client country of multi-national corporations.

“The coup leaders are signing accords that 
benefit foreign oil companies. President Zelaya 
had changed the formula for managing the oil. His 
actions began to benefit the state and the 
consumers, and now these men are changing 
everything. They are benefiting Shell and 
Texaco,” Alegría said in an interview with Radio of the South.

“The coup leaders want to return to the past to 
benefit the empire and the oligarchy with the 
natural resources of our country,” Alegría 
continued. “We call on the international 
community to listen to us and support us, because 
the crisis was not provoked by the people, the 
left, or the resistance, but by a group of 
coup-mongering politicians who only seek economic advantage for themselves.”

Alegría said the resistance will never recognize 
the coup regime as legitimate, and will continue 
struggling both in local communities as well as 
in the political arena in order to take power and restore democracy.

El Salvador

Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes announced 
this week that his government will not adhere to 
the ALBA bloc, despite a recent declaration by 
his left-wing former guerrilla party, the 
Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), in favor of joining the bloc.

“If the FMLN wants to become part of the ALBA 
with its mayors, or as a political party it 
wishes to participate in the efforts that the 
ALBA governments, parties, and countries carry 
out, then do it, there’s no problem, but this 
government is not going to do it,” Funes said.

Funes explained his disagreement with the FMLN, 
the party which helped him get elected last March 
as the first left-wing president following more 
than two decades of right-wing government. “The 
FMLN has a certain vision about international 
relations and about the projects it has decided 
on at the international level, especially on a 
regional scale,” said Funes. “I do not totally share it.”

Instead, Funes said his administration will focus 
on building alliances in Central America, where 
right wing and centrist regimes control the 
majority of the region’s national governments.

“I have decided to work more toward Central 
American integration, toward consolidating a 
regional bloc, toward uniting policies and 
uniting efforts with the presidents of the 
region, rather than looking toward other entities 
such as the ALBA,” Funes said.

Funes added that his plan includes a “greater 
strategic relationship” with the United States, 
which is “a government presided over by a 
Democrat of clear convictions, who has a 
different vision of the North-South 
relationship,” referring to U.S. President Barack Obama.

Currently, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, 
Venezuela, Dominica, Antigua and Barbados, and 
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are members of the ALBA alliance.

ALBA Currency

The ALBA bloc’s common currency, an electronic 
compensation system called the Sucre, will be put 
into use starting this month, according to 
Venezuelan Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez. The 
Sucre will have an initial value of US $1.25, and 
will only be used by ALBA members for ALBA deals, 
mediated by the ALBA joint bank that was created last year.

“What we are looking for with the SUCRE is the 
creation of a mechanism that permits us to have a 
new financial architecture and break with the 
dependence on the dollar in commercial exchange 
operations,” Rodriguez said in a press conference last week.

The SUCRE will be used in the coming months for 
Venezuelan rice exports to Cuba and asphalt 
exports to Bolivia, as well as Bolivian wood, 
food, textile, and artisan craft exports to other 
ALBA countries, Rodriguez said.

Source URL (retrieved on Jan 18 2010 - 10:47): 

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