During the IXth Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) held in Caracas, Venezuela, April 18 to 19, member countries of the regional fair-trade bloc, founded in 2004, signed an agreement to consolidate regional integration and sovereignty with the aim of building socialism.
The heads of states and governments of Ecuador, Rafael Correa; Cuba, Raul Castro; Bolivia, Evo Morales; Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega; and the prime ministers of Antigua and Barduda, Winston Baldwin; Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves and Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, ratified these objectives in the text of a document entitled the “Caracas Manifesto Consolidating the New Independence.”
A central theme of the summit was the global climate crisis, which according to the leaders of the ALBA member countries, is a product of the capitalist economic model.
Speaking to his ALBA counterparts, Bolivian President Evo Morales, who this week is hosting the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, said, “The hour to combat the capitalist economic model and system, which has caused so much damage to life and humanity, has arrived.”
The “crisis of world capitalism” was demonstrated by the failure of the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen last year Morales said. “They did not approve the documents from our countries due to the pressure of North American imperialism,” he explained.
“We have a commitment; our responsibility is not only to save Latin America, but care for humanity which inhabits our lands.”
The key banner of struggle against capitalism and unbridled industrialization “is the defence of mother earth” because “each and every one of us are children of our mother earth,” Morales argued.
He castigated the capitalist model because this system “does not take into account the serious damage it does to humanity and’the plunder of natural resources.”
Cuban President Raul Castro emphasised the need to raise awareness about the implications of climate change and in particular the need to reduce carbon emissions and other environmental pollutants, otherwise the planet will begin to “make us pay” for all the ecological damage we are causing, “Everyday we get closer to the point of no return” he warned.
The summit affirmed the “firmest support” for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia.
The summit also dealt with issues such as defence, the negative impacts of capitalism, the threat of US imperialism towards ALBA countries and the need to strengthen the process of independence in the region.
Castro stressed the importance of unity among ALBA countries and also more broadly in the region in the context of an increased “imperialist campaign that aims to put an end to the progressive governments.”
In particular the statement called for “concerted political action” to expose the hypocrisy and double standards in international relations shown by the United States and expressed “preoccupation over the excessive presence of foreign military forces in Haiti”
Also adopted was a condemnation of the United States unilateral economic blockade of Cuba and for increased efforts to free the Cuban Five.
The statement also declared support for the unanimous decision of the Rio Group summit in Mexico earlier this year to hold the founding summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a hemispheric-wide organisation without the United States or Canada, in Venezuela in June 2011.
The ALBA summit also affirmed the continued struggle to promote social justice, human rights and economic independence the across the region through strengthening cooperation over health, education and poverty reduction programs and facilitating fair trade through the Sucre – a virtual currency system – amongst other projects.
Chavez outlined some of the achievements of the ALBA process in the field of assistance programs for people with disabilities, saying, “A total of 897,883 people with disabilities have been seen in six of the countries that comprise the ALBA”
He also reported that some 2,052,931 homes have been visited on activities undertaken by groups of specialists who visit house to house in order to comprehensively address the living conditions of persons with disabilities among other things.
“We’re showing what we can do by joining together and breaking with the capitalist model,” he said.
The declaration also outlined the necessity to promote the development of social movements and the formation of the ALBA Council of Social Movements, following the creation of a national council of social movements in each country.
ALBA will only achieve real unity by promoting unity from the grassroots, of the peoples, not from above, Chavez argued.
In addition, the Caracas Manifesto agreed to convene a summit of indigenous and afro-descendent movements June 3 to 4 in the town of Otavalo, Ecuador.
The closing ceremony of the summit, which included the participation of representatives from communal councils and social organisations from around the country, concluded a week of activities celebrating the bicentenary of the establishment of Venezuela’s first government independent of Spanish colonial rule, on April 19 1810, which sparked off a broader independence struggle across the continent.
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This post was written by Kiraz Janicke