[News] Honduras Withdraws from ALBA, El Salvador Wont Join Despite FMLN Support
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Mon Jan 18 10:46:15 EST 2010
Honduras Withdraws from ALBA, El Salvador Wont 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. Hondurass 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 countrys 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
Venezuelas 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 Hondurass
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.
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, theres 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 regions 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.
The ALBA blocs 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.
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