March 7, 2017
Alba is the foundation for the construction of a new America, which is why we must tend and value it, stated Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, March 5, upon inaugurating the 14th ALBA Extraordinary Summit in honor of Bolivarian leader Hugo Chávez, on the fourth anniversary of his passing.
Maduro recalled that the regional organization was born at a historic moment at the beginning of the 21st century, as a space to coordinate strategies in defense of progressive movements worldwide.
Alba emerged at a time when it seemed impossible, seemingly a dream of two greats that were Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, he stated.
Later the Venezuelan leader noted that the bloc is the result of the convergence of progressive political forces in the region and has proven that it is possible to place human beings at the center of our complex power structures.
“The decade of the 90s could be called the decade of social disaster across the entire continent,” he stated, going on to note that ALBA also gave way to Petrocaribe, an extraordinary and revolutionary project, stated Maduro.
Regarding late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, he noted that he was the child of Bolívar’s ideas, and described his passing on March 5, 2013, as a devastating blow for the country.
Chávez must however be remembered with joy, fighting for happiness, with an embrace of solidarity. If Chávez represented anything it was boundless joy and optimism, said Maduro.
He continued by noting that on March 5 four years ago, the right wing believed that the time to destabilize the Bolivarian Revolution had arrived.
Four years after his death, and the Bolivarian Revolution of a triumphant Chávez is still here and looking toward recovery; these are new times with new challenges, stated the Venezuelan President. He went on to explain that people around the world continue to love and defend Chávez, as well as Comandante Fidel Castro, whose ashes rest in a tomb in Santiago de Cuba, added Maduro.
With these two greats we will continue to face any situation. After almost 60 years of Revolution, it has cost heroic Cuba a great deal; cost the country a great deal to have an educated and conscious people. Here stands Cuba, undefeated and intact, making its way along its own path, he stated.
I can imagine Chávez saying to Fidel: We are not plowing the sea. We continue to reap the fruits of the good harvest planted by two great presidents, stated Maduro.
WE ARE FIDELISTAS AND CHAVISTAS: PRESIDENT OF BOLIVIA EVO MORALES
March 5 is a day to remember forever, as four years ago we cried and suffered, after hearing the news of the death of Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales recalled.
However, four years later, March 5 is a day of “strengthening and reflection.” The best tribute we can pay to our brother Chávez, who taught us to stand up against imperialism, is unity, stated the Bolivian leader. “Latin America is anti-capitalist. We are Fidelistas and Chavistas.”
It is very important to defend basic services such as human rights, which is why we must oppose privatization, stated Morales.
The Andean leader then called to continue expanding ALBA-TCP, which has proved to be the “axis of hope” on our continent, as opposed to the “axis of evil” as some initially described it.
He also mentioned the situation in various capitalist countries where migrants are being attacked. “There are walls for immigrants, but there are no walls against military bases and interventions,” highlighted Morales.
“The people of the world will organize to speak out against these types of policies,” he noted.
At another moment during his speech, the Bolivian President recalled Cuba’s role in supporting revolutions in the region. “These changes we are seeing in Latin America are thanks to Cuba, thus I say: Thank you Raúl, thank you Fidel, we will always remember you.”
Four years after the death of Chávez, I must say that unity is the best and most important guarantee to continue the battle and the struggle.
CHAMPIONS IN REDUCING POVERTY: ECUADORAN FOREIGN MINISTER GUILLAUME LONG
We encountered Chávez in the late 1990s. It would have been extremely difficult for the people of the region to carry out the liberation processes currently unfolding across the continent, if it weren’t for the path he charted, stated Ecuador’s Foreign Minister.
We are the vanguard of the struggle against injustice on the continent, even though we are one of the most unequal regions on the planet, he noted.
ALBA member states have been champions in reducing poverty and we must continue fighting for true democracy which guarantees freedom for all, he stated.
Guillaume Long noted that his country has experienced two difficult years given economic troubles and the impact of severe natural events, but is on the road to recovery as all indicators show.
In this sense the Ecuadoran Foreign Minister explained the current situation regarding the country’s Presidential elections, noting that a dirty campaign to discredit President Rafael Correa is been waged by media outlets responding to the interests of the national oligarchy.
Ecuador has held democratic elections and after 10 years of government this is a very important achievement for us: electoral democracy is sacred.
WE CONTINUE TO BE COMMITTED TO INTEGRATION: PRIME MINISTER OF SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES RALPH GONSALVES
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves repeated the call for unity among all peoples and nations which make up the Bolivarian Alliance for the People’s of Our America (ALBA), noting that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines remains firm in its commitment to the integration process.
He also emphasized the importance and reiterated his country’s support of the Summit’s final declaration which establishes the strengthening of the ALBA Bank and fund supporting migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean.
During his remarks, Gonsalves paid tribute to Comandante Hugo Chávez, recalling the leader’s efforts to strengthen Latin American and Caribbean unity.
THE CHALLENGES OF THESE TIMES DEMAND UNITY: PRIME MINISTER OF SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS TIMOTHY HARRIS
This has been a very productive meeting, where various issues regarding ways to improve the lives of our peoples have been discussed, noted the Caribbean leader.
There are, without a doubt, opportunities to strengthen cooperation and collaboration within ALBA, which is why we must have efficient transport systems to make our economies more independent and solid, he stated.
Harris also noted the importance of Bolívar’s vision and the efforts of his disciple Chávez, while reaffirming his country’s commitment to supporting ALBA and Petrocaribe.
We offer our support to the government of Venezuela, and Cuba knows that it has many friends in Caricom (the Caribbean community market), and we have always had excellent relations with the people and government of Cuba. Cuba always goes above and beyond the call of duty, stated Prime Minister Harris.
The challenges of these times demand unity, but this unity must be cemented in the region, he concluded.
ALBA IS A SOLIDARITY PROJECT: HEAD OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA’S DELEGATION NICHOLAS MELFORD
The Caribbean representative noted that the question of cultural exchanges was among issues discussed during the Summit. He highlighted that now is an important moment in this regard, given that a large part of the history of Latin America has been presented through the lenses of U.S. corporate media.
Thus he called for the role of teleSUR English to be strengthened in order to reach English speaking Caribbean nations.
He went on to note that he had the opportunity to have his photograph taken with one of his personal heroes, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, and commented that he was proud to participate in the same meeting as Cuban President Raúl Castro.
The principles of ALBA are important in moments of crisis. We must be proud that our leaders have sought to create a project that works in solidarity with the most humble.
ALBA – A KEY PIECE TO INTEGRATION: HEAD OF GRENADA’S DELEGATION OLIVER JOSEPH
ALBA has been a key piece to integration, stated Grenada’s representative, who also recalled that the bloc’s 14th Summit was held on the fourth anniversary of the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. “This is a tribute to him and to Fidel Castro.”
The principles of ALBA are enduring and the policies which led to its creation are also shared by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). I would like to applaud ALBA’s various cooperation initiatives with international organizations to reduce poverty in the region, he said, and highlighted the important role played by Petrocaribe in this regard.
ALBA is a mechanism which contributes to improving the quality of life of our peoples. We are happy that it is focused on social and human issues, stated Joseph, adding that “Grenada considers Cuba and Venezuela to be great friends.”
POLITICAL WILL IS NECESSARY: SPECIAL ENVOY SENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF SURINAME, WINSTON LACKIN
Lackin expressed his full support for the Declaration and thanked Venezuela for its assistance offered through Petrocaribe. Regarding the private meeting held prior to the Summit, the regional representative noted that a lack of political will on the part of governments can create obstacles to establishing cooperation projects.
He also noted that although all regional integration mechanisms are working toward this end, a lack of political will presents a threat to such initiatives.
ALBA’S LEADERSHIP IS EXEMPLARY: HEAD OF DOMINICA’S DELEGATION REGINALD AUSTRID
Austrid recalled that many forces wanted to destroy ALBA and Petrocaribe, and thanked Venezuela and Cuba for their support after Hurricane Erika hit the region, two years ago.
We are aware of the challenges facing Venezuela and all ALBA and Petrocaribe member states, but their leadership has been exemplary in these circumstances.
WE HAVE NOT GIVEN UP: PRESIDENT OF NICARAGUA DANIEL ORTEGA
Both Chávez and Fidel are the eternal Comandantes of Latin America. We can tell both of them that we have not given up, stated Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.These are times of crisis for the tyrannical model that has been imposed as part of neoliberal globalization, which seemed to be unstoppable and untouchable; and has now entered into crisis, Ortega noted.
The crisis is being caused by this very same model, which is why now is the time to create and grow, to continue strengthening the path being charted by ALBA and Petrocaribe, he said.
We do not oppose the market, but we must establish a fair market and trade mechanisms with a social commitment to our people.
We are not the ones erecting walls. These are times for Latin American and Caribbean integration, times to strengthen exchanges between our peoples, he stated, later praising the many achievements of the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel and Raúl.
Also participating in the 14th Alba summit were representatives of social movements who presented a statement of support.