Representatives of the ALBA member states demanded Washington retract President Barack Obama’s March 9 executive order declaring Venezuela a “threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” and establish dialog with Venezuela.
ALBA, which means “dawn” in Spanish and stands for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, was initiated by Venezuela and Cuba in 2004 as an alternative to the U.S.-led Free Trade Area of the Americas. Its members are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada, Nicaragua, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela.
“Today Venezuela is not alone, nor is our region the same as it was 20 years ago,” Castro said. “We will not tolerate the violation of sovereignty or allow peace in the region to be broken with impunity.”
“The United States must understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba, or intimidate Venezuela,” he said. “Our unity is indestructible.”
“We have come to close ranks with Venezuela and ALBA, and reaffirm that principles are not negotiable,” Castro said.
Amid rising tensions over U.S. threats and sanctions against Venezuela, the latest meeting between representatives of the U.S. and Cuban governments ended abruptly March 16 in Havana after one day of negotiations.
This was the third round of high-level talks since Dec. 17, when Obama and Castro announced the two countries would begin talks to resume diplomatic relations.
While Washington’s relentless campaign to overthrow the Cuban Revolution has caused harm to the Cuban people, it has also led to the “complete isolation of the United States” in Latin America, Castro told the meeting. This led Obama to shift course, he said, but “the objectives persist and only the methods change.”
Economic crisis in VenezuelaVenezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chávez after the latter’s death in 2013, continues many of his predecessor’s policies. Chávez was elected in 1998 after more than a decade of rising popular protests. He launched numerous public subsidies and social programs while maintaining capitalist property relations. Chávez and the majority of his followers have rejected the example of the Cuban Revolution of mobilizing the toilers to overthrow capitalist rule and instead push for a new kind of “21st Century Socialism.”
Chávez worked closely with the Cuban government on many fronts, including the launching of ALBA, which sponsors programs to combat illiteracy, expand access to health care, improve food production and develop energy and infrastructure.
Venezuela initiated PetroCaribe, providing Cuba and 13 other Caribbean countries with substantial amounts of oil at prices well below the world market.
“PetroCaribe was an extraordinary, generous and humanistic contribution,” Castro said at the meeting. “Now they want to destroy PetroCaribe to threaten its member states, make them submit to the oil multinationals and separate them from Venezuela.”
The 60 percent drop in oil prices in less than a year has exacerbated an economic crisis in Venezuela, which depends on oil sales for 95 percent of its hard-currency income. Runaway inflation and shortages of food and basic necessities are making life difficult for working people.
With the economic crisis deepening and support for Maduro and his party slipping, Washington seeks to isolate and demonize the government and help Venezuela’s opposition parties win elections expected at the end of the year. The New York Times editors March 12 urged the administration to take measures to “further isolate a leader who is becoming a regional pariah.”
On its part, the Venezuelan government, which accused the U.S. of being behind a coup plot Feb. 12, carried out military exercises March 14 involving nearly 100,000 troops, saying they were preparing for the possibility of a U.S. invasion. The next day the National Assembly gave Maduro powers to enact laws without congressional authorization for the rest of the year.
At the invitation of Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, Cuba will attend the April 10-11 Summit of the Americas in Panama City organized by the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States. This is the first time Cuba will attend an OAS summit since Washington engineered Cuba’s expulsion from the organization in 1962.
Solidarity mission to Venezuela counters US threats
‘No battle waged by revolutionaries ends with what you once did’
Cuban Five tell students in Havana: ‘The more selfless you are, the happier, freer men and women you will be’
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