Friday, June 12, 2009

ALBA & Petrocaribe

ALBA and PETROCARIBE, two integration initiatives that show promise to unite forces

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez affirmed that the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) – a bloc for integration and cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean – could no longer be ignored in the future as some powerful countries and regional organizations have tried to do in the past.

In his Sunday column ‘Chavez’s Lines’, entitled “The Battle of San Pedro Sula”, the Venezuelan leader referred to the role of ALBA during the recently concluded General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Honduras.

In his article, Chavez stressed that such a high level of coordination among so many Latin American and Caribbean governments had never been seen before the OAS meeting in San Pedro Sula.

The South American head of state and government described the six ALBA member countries as the driving force of the diplomatic and strategic efforts made during the meeting and noted that the regional bloc “is no longer an Alternative but a Bolivarian Alliance; and with us, the coordinated action of many countries that are friends of ALBA and Cuba.”

Chavez recalled that during an Extraordinary ALBA Summit in Cumana, Venezuela, last April, the organization strongly rejected the arbitrary exclusion of Cuba from the OAS.

The carrying out of works addressed at the development of countries united by Petrocaribe, through funds of the Bolivarian Alternative for the People's of our America (ALBA), seems to be one of the proposals to be debated during the VI Summit of the Caribbean group, which takes place in Basseterre, capital city of Saint Kitts and Nevis, two islands that make up the smallest country in America.

Just in Saint Kitts and Nevis are being carried out three housing projects financed by the ALBA fund, which put in 10 million dollars to the initiative in November 2007. This fact might be an accurate example of the benefits that would result from the interaction between the two blocs.

Venezuela's Ambassador to the Caribbean country, Cruz de Jesus Bello, explained that the housing project embraces humanist values, since it is aimed at the extension of houses for people with limited resources and at the building of houses for the workers who are unemployed since the closing of what used to be the main source of incomes in Saint Kitts and Nevis during more than 300 years: the sugar industry.

Saint Kitts' Minister of Housing, Agriculture, Fishing and Cooperatives, Cedrid Libor, expressed that “Our sugar industry, built more than 300 years ago, generated important incomes for the country. We used to sell sugar to the European Union at preferential prices until the World Trade Organization issued a dictate to end with those advantages. We were obliged to close it in 2005, which left many people unemployed. Well then, the housing project financed to us through the ALBA includes the building of 250 houses for them.”

The VI Petrocaribe Summit will also review the progress in matters of infrastructure in order to optimize the oil supply on behalf of Venezuela.

Furthermore, Saint Kitts and Nevis is also the example to tackle with the issue of infrastructure in virtue of the constitution of a joint company with Venezuela, PDV Saint Kitts LTD, which is running since September 2008 and which is currently leading the building of a tank farm with the capacity to store 46 thousand barrels of crude, fuel, gas oil, diesel, jet -A1 (oil for airplanes) and liquefied propane gas.

The above described work is devised to be finished by the year 2011.

Petrocaribe is currently made by 18 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Granada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Venezuela. The government of this last country, headed by president Hugo Chavez Frias, proposed and boosted the initiative to create the group.

The first Petrocaribe Summit took place in 2005, in Kingston, Jamaica, and in this sixth edition it is expected the joining of two other countries: Guatemala and Costa Rica.

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