CARICOM Rejects Proposal from Canada and Guaidó to Undermine Petrocaribe

Source:  Onternationalist 360
March 15 2019

Misión Verdad
https://i0.wp.com/misionverdad.com/sites/default/files/styles/mv2_820x460/public/media/photos/caricom.jpgCanada is attempting to position Juan Guaidó in the Caribbean to the detriment of the constitutional government of Nicolás Maduro.

Misión Verdad had access to a confidential document (“Non-Paper”) produced by the government of Canada, presided over by Justin Trudeau, through which they sought to create a bridge of contact between the president of the National Assembly in contempt and the governments of the Caribbean Community ( CARICOM) to propose an instrument of displacement of Petrocaribe.

Yesterday, March 14, the Canadian government sent a low-level official to a meeting of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), held on the island of Guadeloupe, with the aim of facilitating a direct link between Guaidó’s team and the prime ministers whose governments make up CARICOM.

In Guadeloupe, Trudeau’s special envoy asked for a meeting with the top leaders of the CARICOM that was rejected because it did not represent the diplomatic standards necessary for such a meeting to take place. However, Caribbean representatives accepted a courtesy lunch where the American delivered the following document:

Trudeau’s special envoy asked for a meeting with prime ministers of that organization, but was rejected for not having the necessary diplomatic level, so he delivered the following document at a courtesy lunch with representatives of Caricom. pic.twitter.com/WkJfO2oClL

– Mission Truth (@Mission_Truth) March 15, 2019


The government of Canada in principle would have offered a meeting between Juan Guaidó himself and the representatives of CARICOM, an issue that proved to be false and upset the Caribbeans for being an indication of a diplomatic lack of seriousness.

In spite of this, they received the document with the proposal of the Trudeau Administration, who at all times acted as representative of the Venezuelan opposition, which consisted of creating a parallel body to Petrocaribe called “Cooperation and Energy Stability Agreement”.

The proposal to mine Petrocaribe was a further sign of annoyance to CARICOM representatives, who reminded the Canadian envoy of his full support for dialogue between the parties in Venezuela. They also urged the opposition to sit at the same table with the government of Nicolás Maduro.

CARICOM also reminded Canada of the fact that Petrocaribe is being sabotaged by U.S. sanctions and regional pressure against Venezuela, supported both by the Trudeau government and by the Venezuelan opposition represented in the National Assembly in contempt.

Without further ado, CARICOM rejected the Canadian option.

The Canadian-led anti-Venezuelan coalition made this attempt:

  • Buying the will of CARICOM with negotiations that the Caribbean representatives themselves described as petty.
  • Offering high-level diplomatic meetings that did not materialize, sending low-level advisors with disrespect to Caribbean governments

Finally, CARICOM made it clear that it does not recognize Juan Guaidó. They insisted on a common position that proposes peaceful means of dialogue and respect for international law, outside the strategy of coup d’état and “humanitarian intervention” outlined by Washington.

It should be remembered that CARICOM consists of 15 British countries and dependencies:

Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago.
The British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands are associate members.
The Bahamas belongs to Caricom but not to the common market created within it.
Aruba, Colombia, Curacao, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Saint Martin and Venezuela are observer countries.

Translation by Internationalist 360°

Hugo Chavez’s Memory Lives on in the Hearts of Latin Americans

Source:  TeleSUR
March 5 2019

hugo chavez lives onHugo Chavez’s presidency in Venezuela extended from 1999 to 2013, but his
presence still remains in the streets and the heart of the country. | Photo: EFE

Hugo Chavez’s presidency in Venezuela extended from 1999 to 2013,
but his presence still remains in the streets and the heart of the country. | Photo: EFE

Published 5 March 2019 (13 hours 5 minutes ago)

Chavez’s spirit was contagious and empowered the region with a passion for Latin America and its colorful history.

Six years since his passing and the memory of Hugo Chavez still remains not only in the hearts of Venezuelans but of Latin Americans around the globe.

RELATED: John Pilger: The War on Venezuela Is Built on Lies

His leadership and legacy revolutionized the state of Venezuela, like no other administration in the nation’s history, cutting the chord from imperialist countries in the north, taking the reins and changing South America’s future.

After centuries of passivity, under Chavez’s administration, Venezuela bloomed into one of the strongest, most independent nations on the continent.

Over the 14 years of his presidency, Chavez made it his mission to bring equality to lower classes from mediating race discrimination to increasing employment opportunities and introducing social programs.

By exploring the expenditure of Venezuela’s oil industry, the former president was able to allocate funds for free housing, literacy, and health care initiatives. Pensions for the elderly surged, jumping from 400,000 to over two million; some 1.5 million Venezuelans benefited from the Mission Robinson I and learned to read and write.

Under Chavez’s policies, poverty rates were cut in half and the level of extreme poverty decreased by two-thirds; child malnutrition decreased and the amount of safe, clean drinking water grew.

In an article published by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Roger D. Harris, Task Force on the Americas, said, “Venezuela went from being among one of the most economically unequal nations in Latin America to being among the most equal through the exercise of state power for the populace.”

Chavez’s spirit was contagious and empowered the region with a passion for Latin America and its colorful history.

His experience was pivotal in the creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) which united Venezuelan and Cuba in 2003 in a mutually respectful and reciprocal fair trade arrangement. What started as a two-member agreement, soon grew into an 11-member nation concord.

IN DEPTH:  Venezuela Confronts US-backed Right-wing Coup

A second initiative, PetroCaribe, made waves in 2005 when 17 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean joined together to secure a steady energy supply, without overdue interference from Canada or the United States.

Similarly, The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) were created again as a means to break from centuries of tradition and submission orchestrated by the Northern Hemisphere.

The progress realized in Venezuela over the last decade and a half hardly make it surprising that the United States is desperate to instate a Washington-approved head of state.

Over the last few months, the U.S. has increased its efforts to dislodge Chavez’s democratically elected successor, Nicolas Maduro. In its most recent attempt, the U.S. sent “humanitarian aid” to Colombia in a show of solidarity with the Venezuelan opposition and the “suffering boys and girls.” However, violence- perpetrated by opposition forces- broke out along the border and resulted in the injury of numerous state police officials.

This “philanthropic” ploy was denounced by Venezuelan government officials before an international delegation at the United Nations last week, when Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza revealed that the trucks of “food” were carrying equipment for barricades and anti-government movements lodged by the opposition.

Despite these hardships, Maduro’s government continues Chavez’s mission, founding new social programs to boost the economy and employment opportunities, while still ensuring the heart and spirit of “Chavismo” is reflected in modern-day Venezuela.

How the U.S. Is Strangling Haiti as It Attempts Regime Change in Venezuela

Source: Portside.org
February 19 2019

haiti-protests.jpegProtests broke out a week ago across Haiti. What motivated the streets to be on
fire this time was the rise in prices of fuel and the position taken by Haiti against
the government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.,
Estailove St. Val/EPA-EFE

Last year, in October, Haitians followed two Twitter hashtags that went viral—#PetrocaribeChallenge and #KotKobPetwoKaribea. If you are not Haitian and do not follow Haitian politics carefully, you can be forgiven for not noticing this development. The complaint on Twitter—and soon on the streets—was simple: what has happened to the billions of U.S. dollars that was in the Venezuelan-financed Petrocaribe program?

In 2005, when oil prices began to creep upwards and when the Bolivarian socialists led by Hugo Chávez were at their peak, 14 countries from the Caribbean met in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, to launch the Petrocaribe scheme. The idea was elegant. Venezuela, with one of the world’s largest oil reserves, would sell oil to the struggling Caribbean islands through a very lucrative deal. Part of the oil price was paid up front, and the rest was to be paid back over the years at a ridiculously low interest rate (1 percent).

Island nations of the Caribbean, who had struggled with debt and high import prices for energy, now found relief. Haiti and Nicaragua, which were not part of the 14 original members, joined Petrocaribe in 2007. “The Caribbean shouldn’t have problem this century and beyond,” said a buoyant Chávez.

Venezuela Had a Debt to Haiti

An economics of solidarity defined the Bolivarian socialist approach to the Caribbean. If the Caribbean countries thrived, then Venezuela would prosper in turn. The test of this generosity came in 2010, when Venezuela decided not only to write off Haiti’s debt after the earthquake but provided funds in addition for reconstruction. “It was not Haiti that had a debt with Venezuela,” Chávez said then, “but Venezuela had a debt to Haiti.” Since 2007, Venezuela had provided $4 billion in oil through Petrocaribe.

The debt that Venezuela had, in the long-term thinking of Chávez, was because of something that happened in 1815. The first president of the Republic of Haiti, Alexandre Pétion, gave Simón Bolivar sanctuary and armed him to return and liberate Gran Colombia (the vast northern lands of South America). Bolivar had promised Pétion that he would emancipate the enslaved Africans in Gran Colombia. This is what he did. Without Pétion’s demand and Bolivar’s victory, Chávez—whose ancestors had been enslaved—said on a visit to Haiti in 2007, “I would not be here.”

Haiti’s Debt to the West

No such generosity has come from the West. In fact, from the first fires of Haiti’s revolution, Western powers—from France to the United States—have attempted to destroy the Haitian republic. In 1804, France forced Haiti to agree to pay it $21 billion for the “theft” of enslaved Africans and others. It took Haiti till 1947 to pay off this odious, disgusting debt. France has never apologized for it. Nor has Citibank, which made billions off the payments. Neither France nor Citibank has considered replaying the inhumane plunder.

Venezuela’s generosity was not matched by any Western country or financial institution. Instead, the West piled on debt upon debt onto Haiti. Even the “assistance” given during the 2010 earthquake made Western companies money. “These guys are like vultures coming to grab the loot over this disaster,” saidHaiti’s former minister of defense Patrick Elie. The amount of money stolen from the disaster relief and the increase to Haiti’s debt is as yet uncalculated. Millions of dollars were raised—such as by the American Red Cross—but very little of it was spent to lift up the burdens of the Haitian people.

IMF vs. Venezuela

Last February, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it would provide Haiti with $96 million in low-interest loans and grants. But it demanded that the Haitian government cut its crucial fuel subsidy. This subsidy has been a part of Petrocaribe’s program. Protests broke out across Haiti, which led to the resignation of Haiti’s prime minister Guy Lafontant in July (for an assessment of those protests, please read Dossier 8 from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research).

The IMF demand for cuts in fuel subsidy came after revelations that Haiti’s elite had pilfered the funds from Petrocaribe. In 2017, Lafontant’s government released a 600-page Senate report on Petrocaribe’s previous decade. The investigation found that Haiti’s ruling class had stolen enormous amounts of these key funds. No one was called to account—not any of those who stole the money nor the banks that enabled them to do so. Noises about letting the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation take hold of the report seemed to drift into nowhere.

In the midst of this scandal, the IMF policy directive was insincere. The IMF said that the Haitian poor, who had not stolen the money from Petrocaribe, should pay higher fuel prices to help set Haiti’s finances in order. No reparations from France or Citibank, no accountability for the theft of the Petrocaribe funds—none of that. Instead, Haitians—almost 60 percent of whom live below the poverty line—must pay high fuel premiums for the IMF’s paltry loans.

End of Solidarity

Protests broke out a week ago across Haiti. What motivated the streets to be on fire this time was the rise in prices of fuel and the position taken by Haiti against the government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.

In the midst of the economic war against it, Venezuela has not been able to provide Haiti with subsidized fuel. Haiti’s people had to now go to the U.S. oil companies and pay U.S. prices for fuel. This has created bottlenecks in the supply of fuel and frustration at the rising prices. Novum Energy—of the United States—kept ships sitting in Port-au-Prince harbor, waiting for the cash-strapped Haitian government to pay up before unloading 164,000 barrels of petrol and 205,000 barrels of kerosene. There is no solidarity pricing here (in fact, Haiti has to pay $20,000 per day to each ship that is sitting in the harbor as a penalty). These firms want cash, and they want full price.

To add insult to injury, Haiti’s government decided to join with the United States in the vote at the Organization of American States (OAS) against Venezuela. As recently as 2017, Haiti’s representative to the OAS—Harvel Jean-Baptiste—had voted against a similar anti-Maduro resolution. But this time, Haiti’s Léon Charles voted with the United States. It was a vote that provoked anger in the streets of Haiti. The one country—Venezuela—that had come to Haiti’s aid was here being betrayed. That is the mood.

Anachronistic Monroe Doctrine

Meanwhile, other Caribbean countries stood firm. The Caricom (Caribbean Community) group of 15 states from Antigua and Barbuda to Trinidad and Tobago drafted a strong statement to defend the sovereignty of Venezuela. They have worked to create the atmosphere for dialogue, which resulted in the joint Uruguay and Mexico sponsored meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, on February 7.

These small island states know the great peril of allowing the anachronistic Monroe Doctrine (1823) to be fully revived. The idea that the American hemisphere is the “backyard” of the United States is not only humiliating, but it is also against the spirit and letter of the UN Charter.

It is this humiliation that motivates the people of Haiti to take to the streets. Their message is simple: if you won’t let us breathe, we won’t let you breathe, and if you suffocate Venezuela, you suffocate us.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Haitian Prime Minister Calls for Reduction of State Privileges

Source:  TeleSUR
February 17 2019

  • A demonstrator walks past a burning barricade during anti-government protests in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 15, 2019.

In a speech given late Saturday, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant said the country’s problems are rooted in three areas; corruption, and the inequality and decades of bad governance, and argued that the only way out of the crisis, is dialogue.

Amid tense scenes in the Caribbean nation of Haiti, Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant has called for a series of privilegs to be reduced, which includes a 30 percent reduction of the Office of the Prime Minister’s budget, as well as the withdrawal of privileges to the State’s top officials.

RELATED:  Haiti’s President Calls for Dialogue Following Street Protests

These administration cuts are the latest in an effort to eliminate corruption and smuggling in the country.

Céant, in a speech given Saturday, promised to investigate the whereabouts of the US$2B from the Venezuelan PetroCaribe discount oil program that was supposed to be invested into programs for the poor, according to the Miami Herald.

He said Haiti’s problems are rooted in three areas; corruption, and the inequality and decades of bad governance, and argued that the only way out of the crisis, is dialogue.

“It’s been 10 days since children have been unable to go to school, hospitals can’t provide healthcare, big businesses and small businesses can’t function,” he said, addressing the nation.

“It’s been 10 days since the government lost a lot of money. At the same time, the population has suffered a lot. Because of the roadblocks, it cannot find water, can’t eat, nor find gas nor electricity. All of this can take us to deep humanitarian crisis.”

Céant reiterated that “unnecessary privileges will be withdrawn from state officials,” with fuel and telephone expenses, and “useless trips abroad,” among the many requests of the Prime Minister.

TeleSUR also reported that he is considering an increase in the minimum wage, and the reduction of the price of food.

The street demonstrations began on Feb.7, with many demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse as well as urgent calls to address the socioeconomic crisis that crosses the Caribbean island.

To date, unofficial reports indicate that at least eight people have died in the demonstrations, while the opposition raises the figure to 50. However, there is no official information on the number of deaths nor the circumstances in which they have alleged to have died.

Clement Payne Movement (Barbados): Our Duty To Defend Venezuela

CLEMENT  PAYNE  MOVEMENT

(OF  BARBADOS}

PRESS  RELEASE

Our Duty To Defend Venezuela 

maduro chavez y bolivar 2.jpg

Our Duty To Help Solve the Guyana – Venezuela Border Dispute

In a letter to the Editor published in the 28th of February 2018 edition of Guyana’s Kaieteur News, a Mr Earl Hamilton identifies me– David Comissiong– as a “Vincentian political activist”, and accuses me of suffering from “a gross and unfathomable ignorance of current affairs and geo politics” in light of my having publicly chastised President David Granger for breaking ranks with the majority of CARICOM states and joining with the American dominated “Lima Group” of countries at the Organization of American States (OAS) to attack and vilify the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

As far as Mr Hamilton is concerned, the fact that there is a border dispute in existence between Guyana and Venezuela must be taken into consideration, and justifies whatever position President Granger’s administration has adopted against Venezuela in the international arena. Well, I beg to differ.

And I disagree, not because I am anti-Guyanese, or in any way ignorant of the border dispute or insensitive to Guyanese interests and concerns in relation to the border issue. In fact just the opposite is the truth!

To begin with, I am not a “Vincentian political activist”. I am, in fact, a Barbadian Attorney-at-Law ( born in St Vincent) who has a deep and profound family connection with Guyana. In addition, I am widely known in Barbados (and in Guyana) for my legal and political advocacy in defense of Caribbean migrants in Barbados– particularly Guyanese.

Furthermore, I have written about the Guyana / Venezuela border dispute on several occasions, and to the best of my recollection a couple of these Releases were published in the Kaieteur News.

The Press Releases that I have recently been involved in authoring– “Are Guyana, St Lucia and Jamaica the three blind mice of CARICOM’ and “An Urgent Letter to the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Haiti”— are ,however, not about the Guyana / Venezuela border dispute at all !

Rather, they are about the folly and infamy of a number of Caribbean states  (principally Jamaica, Guyana and St Lucia) being used by the Trump Administration (and its multi-millionaire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil fame) to attack Venezuela in the most unprincipled manner, with the intention of bringing down the Socialist Government and once again getting their dirty imperialistic hands on Venezuela’s vast oil resources.

I ask the questions — What do the Guyanese people know about this “Lima Group of states” that Guyana is now a part of? And what has become of the CARICOM principle of forging a collective CARICOM position on important international issues that the late Forbes Burnham so strenuosly championed?

Are the Guyanese people aware that their Government recently lined up behind Trump’s USA at the OAS to pass a Resolution that was cynically designed to cause as much damage and subversion in Venezuela as possible– a Resolution that was deliberately premised on the patently false and fraudulent notion that there is such a breakdown of democratic order, rule of law, and social peace in Venezuela, that the Presidential elections that are scheduled for the 22nd of April 2018 will not be democratic, transparent and fair.

The said “Resolution of infamy” also encouraged and portended an illegal and subversive intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela with its demand that the Venezuelan Government postpone the Presidential election and open the country up to interventionist so-called “assistance” from OAS member states that are hostile to the Bolivarian Government.

My colleagues in the Caribbean Peace Movement and I believe that this myopic and unprincipled vote on the part of  not only Guyana, but of Jamaica, St. Lucia, Barbados, and the Bahamas as well, is not only a despicable betrayal of CARICOM’s traditional principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations and respect for other nations’ right to self-determination, but that it is also a betrayal of a friend who has extended to us badly needed assistance through the Petro Caribe Energy Cooperation Agreement and other forms of aid to foster the development and  prosperity of our peoples.

The fact that Guyana has a border dispute with Venezuela does not give the government of Guyana the right to abandon fundamental principles of International Law, to disregard Guyana’s proud historical record of socialist internationalism and Third World solidarity, and to side with what is perhaps the most reprehensible imperialist Government in the world today– the Trump administration of the USA– to unjustly attack and subvert a sister Caribbean and Latin American nation.

And surely, the Guyanese people must know that the border dispute with Venezuela is a hold over from the colonial past , and that it was inherited by the Administrations of Chavez and Maduro, just as it was inherited by the Granger Administration. The Guyanese people must also be aware that in the past it was cynical imperialist Administrations in the USA and Britain that encouraged the then conservative, capitalist, right wing Government of Venezuela to dredge up the border dispute in order to use it against what they perceived to be the radical socialist Government of Cheddi Jagan !

It is a bold faced fiction– otherwise known as a lie– that the socialist Administration of Nicolas Maduro has adopted an aggressive anti-Guyana position on the border issue. This “bold faced fiction” had its genesis when the newly elected and precariously poised APNU+AFC government suddenly made a dramatic announcement in which they claimed that Maduro had issued a Presidential decree unequivocally laying claim to the disputed territory.

Unlike virtually every single one of the Media houses of the Caribbean, I did not simply accept the word of the Granger Administration, but made it my business to go and read an English translation of the actual text of the Presidential Decree.

The first thing I discovered was that the Maduro decree (Decree No. 1.787 of 8th June 2015) was NOT specifically about Guyana or about Venezuela’s border with Guyana at all ! The Decree was actually devoted to outlining a comprehensive organizational model that the Government of Venezuela had recently decided to employ in organizing its defense of its national territory and maritime waters. However, prior to outlining the structure of this new national defense mechanism, the Presidential Decree stated as follows:-

“The territory and other geographical spaces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela are those corresponding to the Captaincy General of Venezuela before the political transformation begun on April 19, 1810, with the modification from treaties, agreements and arbitral awards not vitiated nullity.

“The Venezuelan State recognizes the existence of maritime areas pending for delimitation in accordance with international agreements and treaties signed by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and that require attention by the Venezuelan State until the achievement of final friendly boundary demarcation.”

In other words, in the very text of President Maduro’s Decree was an acknowledgment that some of the territory and maritime space claimed by Venezuela is still under dispute, and that its ultimate ownership is dependent on the outcome of the “friendly boundary demarcation” process– obviously a reference to the “Geneva Accord” process.

Furthermore, in order to make the Venezuelan position absolutely clear, the following paragraph appeared in the second publication of the Decree:–

“However, there exists a maritime area pending for delimitation, which will be determined once the pending dispute is resolved between the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, according to the 1966 Geneva Agreement….”

The socialist Government of Venezuela had therefore made it extremely clear that it is committed to amicably and lawfully negotiating its boundary dispute with Guyana, and that it had no intention of seeking to use its larger size and greater material power to impose its will on Guyana!

A boundary dispute is a very very difficult thing to resolve, because no national government can contemplate the idea of going back to their people and telling them that they have negotiated away territory that the people believe to be their sacred national patrimony. And so, it will require much good faith, adherence to principle, and feelings of mutual respect and regard as two Third World / Caribbean and Latin American peoples on both sides of the Essequibo border to bring this matter to a successful resolution.

The last thing– the very last thing– that we need in this very difficult and sensitive process of negotiating and resolving the Guyana / Venezuela border dispute is the obnoxious, ill-intentioned, and imperialistic interference of outsider nations like the United States of America.

DAVID  COMISSIONG

Attorney-at-Law

Clement Payne Chambers

Crumpton Street

Bridgetown

Barbados

ALBA Bank to Donate $2 Million to Barbuda for Reconstruction

Source:  TeleSUR
September17 2017

alba bank donates.jpgHomes in Codrington, Antigua and Barbuda were completely torn apart by
the storms powerful winds. | Photo: AFP

The Bank of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America has pledged to allocate US$2 million for the reconstruction of Barbuda.

RELATED: Venezuela Sends Aid to Hurricane Irma-Struck Antigua and Barbuda

jorge arreaza venezuela.jpgSpeaking during a televised broadcast, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, said the funds will be accompanied by a commission of Venezuelan technicians who will participate in the reconstruction of homes adapted to face future climatological phenomena.

The island, comprising the duo Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, took a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Irma, destroying over 90 percent of building structures.

A joint venture

Arreaza stressed that the program will be a joint venture with the government of Antigua and Barbuda and Petrocaribe and ratified the willingness of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to assist the people of Barbuda to overcome the destruction.

“President Maduro was in contact with the Prime Minister of Barbuda Gaston Browne during this episode,” adding that Venezuela is prepared to do all it can in the name of solidarity with sister countries of the Caribbean.

nicolas maduro 19.jpg

Amid Antigua and Barbuda’s devastation, Venezuela sent over 10 tons of supplies to the Caribbean islands, including mattresses, medicine, boots, and cases of water, as well as a roster of rescue personnel.

The Bolivarian National Armed Forces also transported 20 firefighters and 34 civil defense personnel to the hurricane-struck islands.

Cuba and Venezuela Celebrate 12th Anniversary of ALBA Creation

Source:  TeleSUR
December 14 2016

“I see Fidel standing on the leg of the ladder, I was carrying a small suitcase, and I put it on the floor to give him a hug. ALBA began with that hug.”  Hugo Chavez

raul y maduro 3.jpg

Cuban President Raul Castro (L) and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (R) during an ALBA conference, March 17, 2015 in Caracas, Venezuela. | Photo: EFE

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro celebrate the 12th anniversary of the formation of the historic regional alliance.

On Thursday the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro will commemorate the 12th anniversary of the formation of the historic progressive continental alliance, ALBA, in Havana, Cuba.

OPINION:  ALBA’s Vitality Versus the Neoliberal Living Dead

Fidel y chavez sign alba agreement.jpg

Late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and then Cuban President, Fidel Castro sign the founding ALBA agreement in 2004 (AIN Cuba)

Originally launched by Cuba and Venezuela on Dec 14. 2004 as an anti-imperialist response to U.S. plans for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, ALBA, is a “political, economic, and social alliance in defense of independence, self-determination and the identity of peoples comprising it.”

Solidarity and cooperation

Based on the principles of solidarity and cooperation, and a key promoter of 21st Century Socialism, ALBA is now made up of 11 countries from South and Central America and the Caribbean including Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Grenada, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda. Suriname and Haiti are both allied and have declared their intention to become full members.

For the past 12 years, the alliance has worked to strengthen Latin American political and economic unity, promote the political vision of the Bolivarian Revolution, respond to U.S. interventions in the region, combat poverty and illiteracy, and promote and protect the rights of Indigenous nations and people with disabilities.

PetroCaribe

ALBA has helped launch PetroCaribe, which guarantees subsidized oil to its Caribbean members, in particular, Cuba, who thanks to the U.S. embargo had faced severe oil and gas shortages; as well as PetroSur, an organization which attempts to use oil resources to fund social development projects throughout the region. In 2008 ALBA members created a regional virtual currency, the Sucre, which is used in trade between member countries.

Maduro’s visit to Cuba also coincides with the 22nd anniversary of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s first meeting with Fidel Castro which many see as the birth of both ALBA as well as Chavez’s movement for 21st Century Socialism. In writing about that first meeting many years later Chavez wrote, “I see Fidel standing on the leg of the ladder, I was carrying a small suitcase, and I put it on the floor to give him a hug. ALBA began with that hug.”

During the signing ceremony for the creation of ALBA in 2004, Fidel Castro spoke of Chavez saying, “You promised to return one day with purpose and dreams fulfilled. You have returned and become a giant, not only as leader of the victorious revolutionary process of your people, but also as a relevant international personality, loved, admired and respected by many millions of people in the world, and especially our people.”