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UPDATE: An alternative trading bloc, ALBA

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) was launched by the Venezuelan and Cuban governments in 2004 in direct response to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (ALCA is its Spanish acronym), the primary issue discussed at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in April 2001.

Venezuelan trade union leader Ruben Pereira has commented, “At that summit, Chavez was the sole voice to speak out against ALCA and block consensus. In response, ALBA emerged as an instrument for a different type of integration, one based on solidarity where the returns on social investment are not measured in monetary terms but rather in improving peoples’ wellbeing.”

Pereira states, “ALBA is based on two fundamental tenets: respect for national sovereignty and self-determination, and the creation of relations between countries based on solidarity, equality, justice and integration. ALBA has promoted a number of important initiatives aimed at promoting a multi-polar world, building an alternative economic structure, creating new relations between progressive governments and social movements in Latin America, and alleviating the huge levels of poverty in our region. …Similarly, we have the SUCRE (Unified System for Regional Compensation), a virtual currency that aims to replace the US dollar in the various preferential and special trade agreements among member-nations. Such trade agreements do not fit within the logic of capitalism, such as Venezuela’s provision of cheap oil to countries that cannot afford to meet the needs of their people due to the high prices on the international market.”

Alex Main of the Center for Economic Policy Research has noted, “(ALBA) also has defended positions as a bloc at multilateral fora such as the WTO and UN Climate Change conferences.” That’s at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14588. And as we’ve previously noted, ALBA has a Ministerial Committee on the Defense of Nature, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=4574.

ALBA now includes eight Latin American and Caribbean countries – Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

More on ALBA at http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/49622.