Alba of America
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America, ALBA, was born in response to the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. In sharp contrast to the the neoliberal model that the United States tried to impose, ALBA is based on solidarity and mutual aid.
The idea for ALBA was first proposed by the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2001 and came to fruition in 2004 when Cuba and Venezuela signed a historic agreement the gave birth to a model of trade and commerce that emphasized cooperation, liberation and justice, instead of exploitation, domination, and oppression.
Alba means dawn in Spanish, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America invokes the legacy of South American liberator Simon Bolivar, who dreamed of a united continent that could stand up to its North American neighbor and chart an independent course.
Member Countries (date joined):
- Venezuela (14-12-2004)
- Cuba (14-12-2004)
- Bolivia (29-04-2006)
- Ecuador (24-06-2009)
- Nicaragua (23-2-2007)
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines (24-06-2009)
- Antigua and Barbuda (24-06-2009)
- St. Lucia (20-07-2013)
- Dominica (20-01-2008)
Covering 2,513,337 square kilometers Population of 69,500,000
ALBA countries work to establish mutually beneficial trade agreements. As an example, the original agreement between Cuba and Venezuela sent Cuban doctors into the low-income and working class neighborhoods of Venezuela in exchange for Venezuelan oil at preferential prices. The Venezuelan people had long endured a lack of medical attention, while Cuba sought to improve its energy security situation.
This agreement was seen as such a success that it gave birth to what came to be known as Petrocaribe. Member countries in the caribbean were also given preferential oil rates in order to increase access to oil and to reduce public expenditures, with the savings being used to invest in social programs and in infrastructure.
ALBA countries have been developing “Grand National Projects” which are multilateral ventures of state companies that coordinate development projects between nations. These projects are designed to reduce dependence on transnational corporations and instead built projects with social development at the forefront. These projects also coordinate social programs, with cooperation in the areas of health, education, culture, and sport.
ALBA member countries also coordinate political efforts, often acting as a bloc in international forums, allowing for a stronger united voice. ALBA has played a particularly important role defending the revolutionary changes happening in Latin America. It has fiercely defended the democratic will of the peoples of Latin America. It has come out strongly against attempts by U.S. imperialism to undermine or subvert the will of the people, rejecting coup attempts in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. ALBA countries have also spoken out about issues beyond the region, such as the defense of the Palestinian people and their liberation struggle.
ALBA has developed mechanisms to move the region away from dependence on foreign capital, creating a Bank to fund development projects, and the creation of a virtual currency, the SUCRE, which can be used instead of the U.S. dollar for trade between member countries.
Through the Council of Social Movements, the ALBA bloc also seeks to incorporate voices not often heard at international forums. Here leaders of social movements in the Americas have the opportunity to express their opinions directly to decision makers and heads of state.
- Creations of agreements to foster social development and promote cooperation instead of competition.
- Development of social programs aimed at the reduction of inequality and social exclusion.
- Implementation of a region-wide literacy program.
- $2.42 billion in aid to Haiti.
- Creation of a second Latin American School of Medicine to train medical professionals who will work in underserved communities.
- Creation of a Cultural Fund that supports the development and preservation of Latin American culture and the opening of ALBA Culture Houses.
- Defense of the environment and promotion of sustainable development in member countries and international forums.
- Promotion of sport through the hosting of bi-annual ALBA Games.
- Development of responsible journalism through Radio of the South, ALBA TV, and teleSUR.
- Promotion of regional integration through the support of initiatives such as CELAC and UNASUR.
- Rapid response to global crisis such as the convening of the extraordinary meeting to discuss the Ebola epidemic.