brad brace

7/31/2008

ALBA

Filed under: General,global islands,intra-national,nicaragua,resource — admin @ 3:57 am

The Bolivarian Alternative for the People of Our America (Spanish: Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América or ALBA – which also means ‘dawn’ in Spanish) is an international cooperation organization based upon the idea of social, political, and economic integration between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The agreement was initially proposed by the government of Venezuela as an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA or ALCA in Spanish) proposed by the United States. While the ALBA itself has not yet become a hemispheric-wide trade agreement, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia have entered into a Peoples’ Trade Agreement (Spanish: “Tratado de Comercio de los Pueblos” – TCP) which aims to implement the principles of ALBA between those four nations. However, Nicaragua is also a member of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

The adjective Bolivarian refers to general Simón Bolívar, who is revered as a hero throughout much of Latin America for his leadership of independence movements in South America against Spanish colonial power. In addition, Bolívar is a major figure in Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s hemispheric ideology Bolivarianism.

Unlike neoliberal free trade agreements, the ALBA represents an attempt at regional economic integration that is not based primarily on trade liberalization but on a vision of social welfare and mutual economic aid.

The Cuba-Venezuela Agreement, which was signed on December 14, 2004 by Presidents Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, was aimed at the exchange of medical resources and petroleum between both nations. Venezuela delivers about 96,000 barrels of oil per day from its state-owned petroleum operations to Cuba at very favorable prices and Cuba in exchange sent 20,000 state-employed medical staff and thousands of teachers to Venezuela’s slums.

President Evo Morales of poor but gas-rich Bolivia joined the TCP on April 29, 2006, only days before he announced his intention to nationalize Bolivia’s hydrocarbon assets. Newly elected President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, signed the agreement in January 2007; Venezuela agreed to forgive Nicaragua’s $31 million debt as a result. On February 23, 2007 Ortega visited Caracas to solidify Nicaragua’s participation in ALBA. Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, signed a joint agreement with Hugo Chávez, to become a member of ALBA once he becomes president, but as of 2008 Ecuador has not joined the organization.

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, has hailed the signing of the trade agreement with Venezuela as a significant historical milestone in relations between the Caribbean and Latin America. He along with the Prime Ministers of Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed onto ALBA.

In January 2008, Dominica, a small island in the Caribbean, joined ALBA.

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