The Legacy of Simón Bolívar and Independence in the Caribbean

At the 9th Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA) that took place April 19, 2010, at the Teresa Carreño Theatre in Venezuela, leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean gathered for discussions and debate regarding regional integration and independence. The summit discussions, which took place on the 200th anniversary of Venezuela’s independence from Spain, often centered on national sovereignty. Identifying himself as “an anti-imperialist socialist,” President Hugo Chávez drew an explicit link between the independence struggles of the 19th century, led by Simón Bolívar, and ongoing colonialism.  Here are excerpts and a link to the full article below:

The empires may have changed, Mr. Chavez has said, but the battle for independence in Latin America and the Caribbean remains the same. “The moment has come for us to reach true sovereignty and independence” in the region, Mr. Chavez said in his summit speech.

The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, caught the mood, noting that many colonies remain in the Caribbean [and] calling for an end to colonialism. [. . .] It was not about being anti-British or anti-French, Dr Gonsalves added, but about giving the Caribbean an opportunity to develop on an equal footing. He described the region as having the greatest colonial presence in the world.

In fact, of the 16 listed by the United Nations decolonisation committee as Non-Self-Governing Territories, six are in the Caribbean. They are Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands and United States Virgin Islands. The others are Bermuda, Gibraltar, New Caledonia, Western Sahara, American Samoa, Guam, Pitcairn, St Helena, Tokelau, and the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Also in the region, Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth (associated state) of the United States, Martinique and Guadeloupe are part of France, and the Dutch Antilles and Aruba have varying degrees of autonomy within the Dutch Kingdom. Puerto Rico was mentioned in the final summit declaration which said the ALBA leaders supported “the Puerto Rican people in their fight for independence and national sovereignty”.

At a conference earlier this year, the UN committee noted that only one country—East Timor—had gained independence in the nine years so far of the UN decolonisation decade.

For full article (and photo of PM Ralph Gonsalves), see http://www.bbc.co.uk/caribbean/news/story/2010/04/100420_colonialism.shtml

Photo of President Chávez from http://laht.com/article.asp?categoryid=10717&articleid=332164

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