Seventh ALBA Summit
Seventh ALBA Summit
Capitalism is Putting an End to Humanity and the Planet
The heads of state and governments of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela — member countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA, for its Spanish initials) — consider that the proposed Declaration of the Fifth Summit of the Americas is insufficient and unacceptable for the following reasons:
It offers no answers to the issue of the global economic crisis, despite the fact that this constitutes the largest challenge faced by humanity in decades and the most serious threat in the current period to the well-being of our peoples.
The Fifth Summit unjustifiably excludes Cuba in a criminal manner, without mentioning the general consensus that exists in the region in favor of condemn ing the U.S. blockade and attempts to isolate Cuba, which Cuba’s people and government have incessantly objected to.
For these reasons, the member countries of ALBA consider that consensus does not exist in favor of adopting this proposed declaration and in light of the above we propose to have a thoroughgoing debate over the following issues:
1) Capitalism is putting an end to humanity and the planet. What we are living through is a global economic crisis of a systemic and structural character and not just one more cyclical crisis. Those who think that this crisis will be resolved with an injection of fiscal money and with some regulatory measures are very mistaken.
The financial system is in crisis because it is quoting the value of papers at six times the real value of goods and services being produced in the world. This is not a “failure of the regulation of the system” but rather an integral part of the capitalist system that speculates with all goods and values in the pursuit of obtaining the maximum amount of profit possible. The economic crisis has so far created 100 million more starving people and more than 50 million new unemployed people, and these figures are tending to increase.
2) Capitalism has provoked an ecological crisis by subordinating the necessary conditions for life on this planet to the dominance of the market and profit. Each year, the world consumes a third more than what the planet is capable of regenerating. At this rate of wastage by the capitalist system, we are going to need two planets by the year 2030.
3) The global economic, climate change, food and energy crises are products of the decadence of capitalism that threatens to put an end to the existence of life and the planet. To avoid this outcome it is necessary to develop an alternative model to that of the capitalist system. A system based on:
Solidarity and complementarity and not competition;
A system in harmony with our mother earth rather than the looting of our natural resources;
A system based on cultural diversity and not the crushing of cultures and impositions of cultural values and lifestyles alien to the realities of our countries;
A system of peace based on social justice and not on imperialist wars and policies;
In synthesis, a system that recuperates the human condition of our societies and peoples rather than reducing them to simple consumers or commodities.
4) As a concrete expression of the new reality on the continent, Latin American and Caribbean countries have begun to construct their own institutions, whose roots lie in the common history that goes back to our revolutions for independence and which constitutes a concrete instrument for deepening the processes of social, economic and cultural transformation that will consolidate our sovereignty. The ALBA-TCP (TCP is the Peoples Trade Agreement), PetroCaribe and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), to only cite the most recently created ones, are mechanisms for solidarity-based union forged in the heat of these transformations, with the manifest intention of strengthening the efforts of our peoples to reach their own liberation.
In order to confront the grave effects of the global economic crisis, the ALBA-TCP countries have taken innovative and transformational measures that seek real alternatives to the deficient international economic order rather than strengthening these failed institutions. That is why we have put in place a Single System of Regional Compensation, the SUCRE that includes a Common Accounting Unit, a Chamber of Compensations of Payments and a Single System of Reserves.
At the same time, we have promoted the constitution of grand national companies in order to satisfy the fundamental necessities of our peoples, establishing mechanisms of just and complementary trade that put aside the absurd logic of unrestrained competition.
5) We question the G20’s decision to triple the amount of resources going to the International Monetary Fund, when what is really necessary is the establishment of a new world economic order that includes the total transformation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) which, with their neoliberal conditions, have contributed to this global economic crisis.
6) The solutions to the global economic crisis and the definition of a new international financial architecture should be adopted with the participation of the 192 countries that between June 1-3, 2009, will meet at a United Nations conference about the international financial crisis, in order to propose the creation of a new international economic order.
7) In regards to the climate change crisis, the developed countries have an ecological debt with the world given that they are responsible for 70 percent of historic emissions of carbon accumulated in the atmosphere since 1750.
The developed countries, debtors with humanity and the planet, should contribute significant resources towards a fund so that the countries on the path towards development can undertake a model of growth that does not repeat the grave impacts of capitalist industrialization.
8) The solutions to the energy, food and climate change crises have to be integral and interdependent. We cannot resolve a problem creating others in the areas fundamental to life. For example, generalizing the use of agro-fuels (made from corn for example) can only impact negatively on the price of food and in the utilization of essential resources such as water, land and forests.
9) We condemn discrimination against migrants in all its forms. Migration is a human right, not a crime. Therefore, we demand an urgent reform to the migration policies of the U.S. government, with the objective of eliminating deportations and mass raids, allowing the reunification of families, and we demand the elimination of the wall that divides and separates us, rather than uniting us.
In this spirit, we also demand the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act and the elimination of the policies of “wetbacks-drybacks,” which has a discriminatory and selective character, and is the cause of loss of human lives.
Those that are truly to blame for the financial crisis are the bankers who steal money and the resources of our countries, not migrant workers. Human rights come first, particularly the human rights of the most unprotected and marginalized sectors of our society, as undocumented workers are.
For there to be integration there has to be free circulation of people, and equal human rights for all regardless of migratory status. Brain drain constitutes a form of looting of qualified human resources by the rich countries.
10) Basic services such as education, health, water, energy and telecommunications have to be declared human rights and cannot be the objects of private business nor be commodified by the World Trade Organization. These services are and should be essential, universally accessible public services.
11) We want a world where all countries, big and small, have the same rights and where empires do not exist. We advocate against intervention. We call for strengthening — as the only legitimate channel for discussion and analysis of bilateral and multilateral agendas of the continent — the base of mutual respect between states and governments, under the principle of non-interference of one state over another and the inviolability of the sovereignty and self-determination of the peoples.
We demand that the new government of the United States, whose inauguration has generated some expectations in the region and the world, put an end to the long and nefarious tradition of interventionism and aggression that has characterized the actions of the governments of this country throughout its history, especially brutal during the government of George W. Bush.
Similarly, we demand the elimination of interventionist practices such as covert operations, parallel diplomacy, media wars aimed at destabilizing states and governments, and the financing of destabilizing groups. It is fundamental that we construct a world in which a diversity of economic, political, social and cultural approaches are recognized and respected.
12) Regarding the U.S.’s blockade against Cuba and the exclusion of this country from the Summit of the Americas, the countries of the Bolivarian Alternatives for the People of Our Americas reiterates the position that all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean adopted last December 16, 2008, regarding the necessity of putting an end to the economic, trade and financial blockade imposed by the government of the U.S. against Cuba, including the application of the Helms-Burton Act, and that among its paragraphs notes:
“CONSIDERING the resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly on the need to put an end to the economic, commercial, and financial embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba and the decisions on the latter approved at several international meetings,
“DECLARE that in defense of free trade and the transparent practice of international trade, it is unacceptable to apply unilateral coercive measures that will affect the well-being of nations and obstruct the processes of integration.
“WE REJECT the implementation of laws and measures that contradict International Law such as the Helms-BurtonAct and urge the U.S. Government to put an end to its implementation.
“WE ASK the U.S. Government to comply with the 17 successive resolutions approved at the United Nations General Assembly and put an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo it has imposed on Cuba.”
Moreover, we believe that the attempts to impose isolation on Cuba — which today is an integral part of Latin America and the Caribbean region, is a member of the Rio Group and other organizations and regional mechanisms, that carries out a policy of cooperation and solidarity with the people of the region, that promotes the full integration of the Latin American and Caribbean peoples — has failed, and that, therefore, no reason exists to justify Cuba’s exclusion from the Summit of the Americas.
13) The developed countries have destined no less than $8 trillion towards rescuing the financial structure that has collapsed. They are the same ones that do not comply with spending a small sum to reach the Millennium Goals or 0.7 percent of GDP for Official Development Aid. Never before have we seen so nakedly the hypocrisy of the discourse of the rich countries. Cooperation has to be established without conditions and adjusted to the agendas of the receiving countries, simplifying the procedures, making resources accessible and privileging issues of social inclusion.
14) The legitimate struggle against narco-trafficking and organized crime, and any other manifestation of the enumerated “new threats,” should not be utilized as excuses for carrying out acts of interference or intervention against our countries.
15) We are firmly convinced that change, which all the world is hoping for, can only come about through the organization, mobilization and unity of our peoples.
As the Liberator Simón Bolívar well stated:
“The unity of our peoples is not simply the dream of humanity, but an inexorable fate.”
[Translated by Federico Fuentes, at Bolivia Rising ]
“ Only unity will set us free,” said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the closing ceremony of the Seventh Summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA). Chavez read the document approved the day before by the heads of state attending the summit. He also read the resolution in support to Bolivia and gave out the ALBA Cultural Fund Awards.
The document (see p.1) was approved in the Venezuelan city of Cumana, which hosted the Seventh ALBA Presidential Summit. The ALBA Summit, on the eve of the Summit of the Americas that was to open a few hours later in Trinidad and Tobago, is doubtless a pivotal event in the history of our continent.
The document is a brief but thorough study of the causes behind the difficult situation humanity, and the region in particular, faces today. It is also a well-argued criticism of attempts at overcoming the grave problems surrounding the current global economic crisis through old, discredited schemes and institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, and of the intention of doing something similar in the face of other serious threats, such as climate change, which menaces the planet.
Education, healthcare and other basic services must be treated as human rights and guaranteed by States, the document emphasizes, while repudiating acts of intervention and meddling in the affairs of countries and demanding respect towards each people’s right to self-determination.
Its 12th point, which was met with the applause of those in attendance, condemns the illegal blockade that the United States keeps against Cuba and ratifies the declarations approved by all countries in the continent in this connection. Similarly, it declares Cuba’s exclusion from the Summits of the Americas mechanism as inadmissible.
Lastly, the document condemns attempts by rich nations to impose conditions on the aid for development they offer, and to use the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism as an excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
After reading the document, Chavez passed the floor to the other leaders in attendance. President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya spoke on behalf of workers, students and the people of Latin America and the Caribbean to ratify the important ideas summarized by the document.
This was but another expression of the unending show of affection and solidarity towards Cuba which Raul and the Cuban people have experienced during this session, an atmosphere which also characterized each and every hour of these brief but intense gatherings in Venezuela.
A report on the ten approved ALBA projects for food -production and other spheres was also read at the closing session. As part of these projects, Haiti will be aided in rice cultivation and the Cuban literacy program “Yes I Can” will be implemented in the country. Nicaragua will receive 50 million dollars in response to the withdrawal of the “aid” offered by the United States and other wealthy countries, a move Chavez called an attempt to “break an unbreakable people”.
Following this, the Venezuelan President read the Resolution approved at the session held during the previous evening, which ratifies support for Bolivia’s democratic process and its leaders and condemns attempts at preventing this sister South American nation from moving forward through terrorism and destabilizing actions.
ALBA Cultural Fund Awards
Cuba’s Minister of Culture Abel Prieto Jimenez introduced the two intellectuals who received awards at the gathering: Roberto Fernandez Retamar (literature) and Jorge Sanjines (visual arts).
He stressed the fundamental difference between these awards, which acknowledge the work of artists who are truly committed to enriching the cultural heritage and values of our peoples, and other awards tainted by commercial interests, which lack any real value for true artists.
Chavez pointed out how promising the advance of ALBA and of culture is, as the revolution is also a cultural phenomenon. To make his words more deeply felt, he read, as everyone lent an attentive ear, an inspired and beautiful fragment from the novel Sucre en su cabalgadura (Sucre on horseback).
The Venezuelan president thanked the other leaders for attending this historical 7th ALBA Presidential Summit. He concluded by saying that only unity would set the people free and called on those present to recall independence hero Jose de San Martin’s categorical remark: “Let us be free, nothing else matters.”
(Speech by President Raúl Castro Ruz, in the public segment of the 5th Extraordinary ALBA Summit, Cumaná, Venezuela, April 16, 2009)
The economic and social crisis now is global in nature and is not only limited to the financial sector. It’s a world disaster with profound structural roots. It includes a sharp fall in stock market value and productive activity and the freezing of and higher cost of credit and the economic recession in the principal powers of the First World. It is accompanied by the withdrawal of world trade and an increase in unemployment and poverty. It is affecting and will considerably damage the lives and well-being of billions of human beings. The countries of the South will be, as always, the ones that suffer the most.
These are the consequences of irresponsible practices tied to deregulation, financial speculation, and the imposition of neoliberalism. Also present is the United States’ abusive use of the privileges bestowed on them in the current international economic order which allows them to finance a culture of war and unbridled consumerism, unsustainable no matter how you look at it, by printing money without backing.
But deep down, the crisis is a foreseeable result of the capitalist system of production and distribution. The neoliberal policies of the last three decades have increased its magnitude for the worse. In the search for solutions, those who are primarily responsible end up concentrating power and wealth even further, while the poorest and most exploited assume the majority of the costs.
The response cannot be a solution negotiated behind the back of the United Nations by the Presidents of the most powerful countries.
The crisis will not be resolved with either administrative or technical measures because they are by nature structural, have systematic reach and increasingly affect the economy of the globalized and interdependent planet. The role and the functions of financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) whose disastrous policies have decisively contributed to the origin and reach of the current crisis should be lessened, not strengthened.
Nor does the G-20’s solution resolve the inequality, injustices, and unsustainability of the capitalist system. It is the same rhetoric of those solemn declarations by the Northern countries that they will not apply protectionist measures and that they will not allocate new aid, which does not change the foundations of the underdevelopment that condemns us.
The World Bank — which is not exactly a defender of socialist principals — already spoke about this six months ago at the previous G-20 meeting in Washington. It counted 73 protectionist actions applied by members of the G-20 itself. An increase in the Official Development Assistance has also not been visible.
The ALBA countries [Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela] have the privilege of having a modest plan for integration, constructed on the foundations and principles of equality, whose very nature does not allow for the practices that started this crisis. Our countries do not have the capacity, by ourselves, to structurally transform the international economic order, but we do have the power to establish new foundations and construct our own economic relations.
Our most important programs are not subject to the whims of financial speculation or the uncontrolled fluctuation of markets. The damage that we are suffering is undeniable. This is a crisis that nobody can escape from but today we have the instruments to partly counteract its effects.
In these efforts, the work that we have been carrying out in ALBA member countries and Ecuador (since November 2008) is particularly significant; in order to create the Unique Regional Compensation Payment System (SUCRE) that will be a fundamental factor for boosting the trade and economic integration between us.
Today we can verify the advances achieved in the development of this initiative that is a first step toward the goal of having a common currency.
Cuba reaffirms her firm stand of solidarity that has characterized its links with the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. The crisis presents us with enormous challenges, of incalculable and unpredictable dimensions. We have no other option than to unite with each other to face it.
Top government officials from seven South American countries met in Caracas on March 23 to draft constitutive plans for the Bank of the South, an international initiative launched in 2007 to improve regional integration and invest national reserves in social and economic development on the continent.
Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil agreed to contribute $2 billion each as initial capital for the bank, while Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay will contribute $1 billion each, bringing the total capitalization of the bank to $10 billion, according to Venezuelan Finance Minister Ali Rodríguez.
Rodríguez said Monday’s agenda also included discussions about the integration of regional energy production, infrastructure, and finance.
“We are called to fulfill an increasingly important role in the concert of nations, that is why it is indispensable to advance processes of regional integration,” said Rodríguez following the marathon meeting on March 23.
The leaders scheduled a follow-up meeting in Buenos Aires in early May to finalize plans for the regional bank.
Since the global financial crisis erupted in banks in the United States and Europe last year, South American leaders have touted the Bank of the South as a method of insulation from the crisis and as a safer depository of their national reserves.
The Bank of the South was originally proposed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as an alternative to the U.S.-based International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which are considered by many South American nations to have trapped the region in debt and then used this as an excuse to impose policy conditions dictated by the U.S. government.
The Bank of the South would be headquartered in Caracas, and was endorsed in 2007 by Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning former chief economist of the World Bank.