Suriname and St. Lucia to Join ALBA

The ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas) organization, which met in Caracas over the weekend, has invited new members into the group. According to the Miami Herald, the group has discussed plans to launch its own regional bank and “to expand the use of the virtual currency, the sucre, to promote dollar-free trade between the nations.” It has also criticized England for its imperialist intentions against Argentina over the disputed Falkland Islands and ratified a statement asking for Puerto Rican independence. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

During the presidential summit, the leaders of Suriname and St. Lucia said they would seek formal inclusion into the bloc, which includes Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda.

The presidents also ratified Haiti’s role as a permanent observer and asked member nations to redouble their efforts to help that nation recover from the 2010 earthquake. [. . .] On Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Haitian President Michel Martelly signed a framework agreement that aims to boost Venezuela’s role in Haitian agriculture, manufacturing and tourism, among other sectors. ALBA’s foreign ministers will meet in Haiti in March to develop a “special plan” for the recovery.

[. . .] The gathering, which began Saturday evening, comes as Chávez is facing elections in October against a unified opposition. Talking about his plans to keep providing subsidized oil to the region, he said there was little risk of him losing the election. “For sure we are going to win, and for sure they are going to cry fraud … and try to destabilize the country,” he said. He also suggested the U.S. was trying to use the opposition to seize Venezuela’s oil reserves – the largest in the world.

The alliance excludes some of Latin America’s larger economies, but it has proved effective at shaping the region’s discourse. Member nations were key to forcing the Organization of American States to lift its 47-year ban on Cuba in 2009. (The island ultimately turned down the invitation to join.) And last year, ALBA nations were central to the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which includes every country in the hemisphere except the United States and Canada.

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