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  • Melenchon founded the Left Party in 2008 after 35 years in the ruling Socialist Party.

    Melenchon founded the Left Party in 2008 after 35 years in the ruling Socialist Party.

Published 16 April 2017

ALBA was born in December 2004 as an alternative to neoliberal free trade agreements in Latin America.

French Guiana and the French West Indies will join ALBA, founded by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, if French presidential candidate and communist-backed leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon is elected next month, he promised.

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The candidate, who also wishes to leave NATO and renegotiate European treaties, was asked to clarify this point Friday, as it has largely been overlooked in the media so far and created controversy after Melenchon's advisers seemed unaware of it in a TV interview Tuesday.

“ALBA is an organization for cooperation, I support the fact that the French overseas territories, especially in the Caribbean, would be included in the regional economy,” he told TF1 TV channel.

Joining ALBA has been mentioned for a long time in a printed version of his program, where the leader of the Unbowed France, a political movement founded with the perspective of the 2017 elections, argued that the move was meant to “build cooperation for an environmental-friendly, social and human development.”

Although Melenchon did not address the colonial status of these countries, including the ongoing protests in French Guiana against years of inequalities, he has been under attack for even mentioning the idea of joining the regional organization.

He explained further that the French West Indies and French Guiana would join ALBA for instance, while Mayotte and the Reunion Island would cooperate with Southern Africa.

But in order to be “intellectually coherent,” added Melenchon, the territories would not join Mercosur because Mercosur competes with the European Union and therefore with France on the global trade scene, he added.

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He also denounced the recent campaign against this point of his program, falsely described as an attempt to remove France from the European Union and join a military and diplomatic organization along with Venezuela, Iran and Russia.

However, Iran is only at present an observer state — along with Haiti and Syria — as well as Russia, which was temporarily invited to the 2009 summit.

The Bolivarian Alliance for Our Americas was born in December 2004 as an alternative to neoliberal free trade agreements. 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 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 currency over a period of time at lower-than-market interest rates. It also developed health and literacy programs, support for environmental disasters, among others.

The latest polls give Melenchon the win if he were to face far-right Marine Le Pen in the second round.

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