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‘Concrete projects with concrete results’

Published Dec 23, 2009 1:54 PM

The Sixth U.S./Cuba/Venezuela/North America Conference held in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 4-6 discussed the effects of the global capitalist economic crisis and struggles in response by working-class and oppressed people and organizations in various countries throughout the Americas. Following are excerpts from a talk given by Carmen Godinez from the Confederation of Cuban Workers (CTC) International Department explaining the history and significance of ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of America. The original talk was presented in Spanish with a PowerPoint presentation and was translated by Mike Martinez of FIST — Fight Imperialism, Stand Together. The audio tape was transcribed by Cheryl LaBash and John Parker.

The people of “Our America” are using a new integration to come out of this global crisis and improve the living conditions of workers: the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of America.

Carmen Godinez in Tijuana.
WW photo: Bob McCubbin

ALBA’s objective is to transform Latin American societies by making them more just, cultured, participatory and in solidarity through an integrated process that assures the elimination of social inequalities and improves the quality of life and the effective participation of the peoples to shape their own destiny.

Both Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro signed the declaration that created the [originally named] Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas on Dec. 14, 2004, at the celebration of the 180th anniversary of the glorious victory of Ayacucho [the day Simón Bolívar’s army won independence from Spain — WW].

Only integration based on cooperation, solidarity and common will to advance through all of the levels of development can satisfy the needs and wants of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and preserve their independence, sovereignty and identity.

But the U.S. imperialists are using such tactics as the coup in Honduras to stop the growing resistance in Latin America. For the same reason today there are seven new U.S. military bases in Colombia. The bases don’t only represent a threat to our neighbor Venezuela and to the people of Colombia, but they are a threat to all of Latin America.

This is why the ALBA integration is important. It can help construct a political and economic unity of our people and also defend the independence and sovereignty of each one of our homelands.

The free trade agreements that the U.S. and Europe want to impose on Latin America will suck away all the resources of our countries. ALBA is a trade agreement that mutually benefits all parties based on the strengths and weaknesses of each of the members.

In 2006 Bolivia signed on. On Jan. 10, 2007, Nicaragua joined with the inauguration of President Daniel Ortega. The integration among all of these countries began to take shape.

In the process of development of our countries we initiated great national projects with literacy campaigns, cultural campaigns, advances in telecommunications, health and nutrition and efforts to reach a sustainable level of food production and to create a sustainable system of production and job creation for those who grow our food.

At the sixth summit of ALBA Dominica joined. The ALBA bank was founded to help fund the different development projects in our countries and allow us to be independent from such institutions as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and other global institutions that were exploiting us.

In April 2008 ALBA instituted a special plan for food production paying attention to the rise in food prices. It joined the international denunciation of the separatist attempt to divide Bolivia.

On August 25, 2008, Honduras joined ALBA, something for which the U.S. has never forgiven Zelaya. It is important for us to understand why there was a coup in Honduras. This agreement identified strategic development lines among our countries to support Honduras with the goal of reaching energy independence and food security.

In Caracas on Nov. 28, the progress and development of the great national projects was reported, approving resources from the ALBA bank to initiate studies of the selected projects and to continue the literacy campaigns in Bolivia and Nicaragua.

Then in the state of Sucre in April 2009, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, islands in the Caribbean, joined ALBA. Fernando Lugo, president of the Republic of Paraguay, attended. The presidents agreed it was necessary for a new international economic order with profound changes to the international financial system to launch the SUCRE (Unified System for Regional Compensation), a regional currency that will include a common accounting system, a single system of reserves and a compensation fund.

ALBA has provided $5 million to the literacy campaign in Haiti and a little bit more for its agricultural development. Development projects were approved in Honduras, Surinam, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Nicaragua and Belize. So the ALBA is not just an idea, it is a concrete project with concrete results.

ALBA’s health results

In Venezuela since the project began in November 2000 up to June 2008 a total of 38,334 people received medical care including 8,797 surgery interventions and 1,889 youth under 15 years old.

In Bolivia the Cuban medical brigade has a total of 1,129 collaborators. Right now the country has 18 ophthalmologic centers that have allowed 271,398 people to recover their vision, not just Bolivians, but Argentinians and Brazilians, too. Bolivian students who graduated from Cuba’s medical program are working in conjunction with this program. The medical brigade in Bolivia has saved 18,326 people’s lives.

In Nicaragua there are 176 collaborators. Of those there are 41 focusing on eye operations. Fifty-six interns work with the project of the Latin American School of Medical Science that functions in eight municipalities of Nicaragua. They have set up two camp hospitals. In the technical activities we give aid especially for the diseases of AIDS and tuberculosis.


Today 24,703 Venezuelan youth take part in the new medical program studying in either Cuba or Venezuela.

A total of 1,663,661 people have become literate through ALBA’s efforts. On Oct. 28, 2004, UNESCO reported Venezuela free from illiteracy. On March 20, 2006, we began a literacy campaign in Bolivia. On Dec. 20, 2008, Bolivia was declared free from illiteracy. On July 30, 2007 the Nicaraguan literacy campaign “From Martí to Fidel” began. This year Nicaragua was declared free from illiteracy. The “Yes We Can Mission” began in Honduras and it has led to literacy for 84,942 Hondurans.

At this moment in Cuba 932 Honduran youth are studying, 397 of them in the Latin American School of Medical Science, 439 in the new medical program. The energy program in Dominica that was initiated in January 2007 concluded in 2008 with 137,679 installed units. The savings of oil is growing to $1.7 million and the total savings amounts to $5.6 million.

Today ALBA is integrated with the participation of nine countries: Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Honduras, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Ecuador, and Dominica. But the benefits of this project reach all of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.