On March 17, presidents from the ALBA group of nations are meeting in Caracas to outline a unified position against U.S. aggression toward Venezuela and its democratically-elected government. Below are some of the major achievements of the regional bloc over the last decade.
1. Tens of thousands of doctors
Through the Latin American School of Medicine campuses in Cuba and Venezuela, ALBA has produced some 21,075 doctors and 1,590 medical specialists.
2. Free eyesight restoration for over 3 million people
Through the Miracle Mission, more than 3 million people have undergone surgery to have their eyesight improved or recovered at no cost.
3. Almost 4 million people have learned to read through ALBA supported programs
Using the "Yes I Can" teaching method designed by Cuba, a total of 3,815,092 people have become literate in the region through ALBA supported programs. UNESCO has declared ALBA members Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as “Illiteracy-Free Territories.”
4. $2.42 billion in aid to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake
Just after the devastating quake, ALBA also set up five camps with comprehensive care, which housed 3,455 families, provided 55,939 medical consultations and administered 5,904 vaccinations.
5. 100 tons of supplies to Gaza after the Israeli-Gaza war
The Venezuelan people sent 56 tons of humanitarian aid, while Ecuadorians contributed 48 tons and Cuba sent six tons of aid to Gaza following Israel’s deadly offensive against the occupied strip, dubbed Operation Protective Edge. These shipments included tents, non-perishable food items, water, clothes and medical supplies.
6. ALBA Games set new athletic records
In 2005, the ALBA Athletic Games were set up to promote physical activity and solidarity among peoples. In the 4 competitions convened so far, a record 10,532 athletes have competed.
7. UN declared 4 ALBA countries free from hunger
Grenadines, St. Vincent, Venezuela and Cuba have been declared hunger-free by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador have also made significant progress in this area.
8. An alternative currency to break dependency on the U.S.
To date, 5,657 transactions totaling US$2.5 billion have taken place using the SUCRE. The currency was developed by ALBA so that international trade would not depend on U.S. currency and exchanges. In the first half of 2014, 76 percent of those trading using the SUCRE were private enterprises and 24 percent represented the public sector.
9. Trade based on solidarity rather than the market
According to its founding document, “the cardinal principle that should guide the ALBA is the widest solidarity between the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean ... without selfish nationalism, nor restrictive national policies that deny the objective of building the greater Homeland (Patria Grande) in Latin America.”
As such, trade between members is done at preferential, non-market rates and payment can be made through goods as well as through payments over a period of time at lower-than-market interest.
10. ALBA is growing
In the last 10 years, the bloc has grown tremendously. It has expanded from its two signing partners in Cuba and Venezuela to include Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia as well as St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Suriname and Haiti are also slated to become members.
teleSUR’s ALBA Coverage
An earlier version of this piece was published Dec. 14, 2014, in commemoration of the ALBA 10-year anniversary