Africa-South America Summit calls for cooperation

Some 63 governments from two continents took part in the Third Africa-South America Summit, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, under the theme “Strategies and Mechanism to Promote South-South Cooperation.” Participants included 20 heads of state from Africa and five from South America. Earlier ASA summits were held in Nigeria in 2006 and Venezuela in 2009.

The Feb. 20-23 summit adopted the Malabo Declaration, containing resolutions aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two continents and establishing a presidential committee to make decisions between the gatherings, which are held every three years.

Republic of Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who was a member of the delegation headed by President Robert Mugabe, described the summit as a great success and said, “A permanent secretariat based in Venezuela was also approved to run day-to-day coordination and implementation of our cooperation.” Some 30 joint projects have been proposed in the fields of education, information, trade, communication and technology among other areas. (Zimbabwe Sunday Mail, Feb. 24)

Venezuelan statement to Summit

President Hugo Chávez of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela circulated an open letter to the ASA Summit, urging both regions to unite in order to become a “true pole of power.” The letter, published in the Feb. 22 Venezuelanalysis.com, was read aloud by Foreign Minister Elias Jaua to all delegations at the gathering.

Chávez called for “an authentic and permanent link of joint work” between Africa and South America. “It’s in our continents that enough natural, political and historic resources are found … to save the planet from the chaos it has been driven towards” by the capitalist system.

The Venezuelan leader, now undergoing medical treatment, wrote, “In no way do we deny our sovereign relations with Western powers; we must remember that they are not the source of the comprehensive and definitive solution to the problems that our countries share.” Chávez said that Africa and Latin America were essential to developing a “multi-polar” world order, in order to provide an alternative to the dominance of the United States and its allies internationally.

Chávez called for improving cooperation regarding energy, education, agriculture, finance and communications. To facilitate these objectives, he suggested the ASA establish a University of the Peoples of the South as well as a Bank of the South and a petroleum firm to link oil resources of the two continents.

Trade between Africa and South America has increased significantly over the last decade, from $7.2 billion in 2002 to $39.4 billion in 2011. With the creation of a secretariat to better coordinate these trends, even greater and more rapid cooperation could occur.

Chávez observed that military intervention by imperialism has hampered cooperation between the regions. Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi attended the last ASA Summit as chairman of the African Union. Since then, the U.S. has escalated its destabilization policies toward Africa and South America.

The Venezuelan leader wrote, “It’s not by luck or chance … [that] since the Summit in Margarita [Venezuela] the African continent has been the victim of multiple interventions and attacks by Western powers.” That is why Venezuela “totally rejected all interventionist activity by NATO” in Africa and other parts of the world.

South America has a large population of African peoples stemming from the Atlantic Slave Trade, and shares with Africa a history of economic and political domination by imperialism and neocolonialism.

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said that the difficulty in building cooperation between Africa and South America was rooted in the legacy of European colonialism. (Venezuelanalysis.com, Feb. 22)

Africa calls for South-South unity

Republic of Namibia Deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku, who led a delegation of 13 officials to the ASA Summit, emphasized that “the peoples of South America and Africa have a common historical background of waging the struggle for freedom and self-determination. We must speak with one voice to advance the common interests of our peoples.” (Informante.web.na, Feb. 27)

The ASA Summit issued a communiqué demanding statehood for the Palestinian people. The gathering condemned the ongoing violence inside Syria and recommended dialogue over conflict for all the parties involved.

In the immediate aftermath of the ASA Summit, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff made a state visit to the West African state of Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and President Rousseff signed a memorandum of understanding covering agriculture and food security, petroleum, power, biofuel, trade and investment, mining, education, aviation, infrastructure management, finance and culture.