Plan to fight poverty proposed by ALBA/PetroCaribe
A common economic zone has been proposed by the members of ALBA and PetroCaribe with the objective of combating poverty in the region.
In a declaration following a meeting in Caracas, Venezuela on December 17, the heads of state and government of ALBA and PetroCaribe members proposed the creation of a “special complementary economic zone” between the countries of the two alliances with a view to tackling regional poverty. President Donald Ramotar attended the Summit and was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, and Guyana’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Geoffrey DaSilva. Guyana is a member of PetroCaribe but not ALBA.
Ramotar during his presentation at the meeting said the PetroCaribe project is one of foresight and is already being seen in the Region as very important. The Government Information Agency said that the President pointed out that for Guyana, the PetroCaribe arrangement was exemplary and important, and has helped increase trade relations with Venezuela.
He emphasised the importance for the region to secure its own food and said that Latin America has the ability to free itself from problems and could make international contributions with regards to food supplies. “It is vital that this plan is put into operation,” he said.
He also pointed out among other issues to be dealt with, the project on Universities which he said should not be confined only to services, “but there are a lot of other crucial skills which we need for development in our various societies. In Guyana for instance, we lack a lot of infrastructure in our country, we need more engineers, we need more agriculture specialists to improve our yield to our variety,” Ramotar added.
The signatories declared their willingness to work for the consolidation and confluence of ALBA-TCP (Peoples’ Trade Treaty) and PetroCaribe as forums to meet peoples’ needs by executing projects. These projects would be underscored, the declaration said, by the principles of solidarity, cooperation, and respect for sovereignty, as proposed by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez when they issued the ALBA Joint Declaration nine years ago, and signed the PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement eight years ago.
The heads proposed linking this complementary zone with other regional organisations, such as Mercosur and Caricom. Among the decisions they agreed on was to instruct the ALBA-TCP Political Council and the PetroCaribe Ministerial Council to contact Mercosur as soon as possible to apprise them of their interest in holding talks to establish the Economic Supplementary Zone of ALBA-TCP/PetroCaribe and Mercosur.
They agreed to appoint an authority comprising ministers and representatives of the heads to oversee the establishment of the economic complementary zone, that would be jointly led by Jamaica, Dominica, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Venezuela, and would also have the participation of economists appointed by the other ALBA-TCP and PetroCaribe countries.
The heads agreed to instruct the ALBA-TCP Political Council and the PetroCaribe Ministerial Council for the Technical Committees to identify ways to deepen interaction between both mechanisms and to submit a set of proposals to the two councils in the first quarter of 2014, for subsequent consideration and approval by the heads.
They also concurred that ministers of foreign affairs and ministers responsible for the environmental and social portfolios of ALBA-TCP and PetroCaribe members should be instructed to come to a common position in the Social PreCOP meetings to be held in Venezuela which would act as a meeting forum among governments and social movements from around the world on the Multilateral Agenda on Climate Change.
They plan to hold a meeting between the SUCRE Regional Monetary Council and the Board of the Bank of ALBA with the PetroCaribe Ministerial Council to build on the progress made at SUCRE and the Bank of ALBA, in order to consider the potential incorporation of PetroCaribe member states into the mechanisms of the new regional financial architecture.
The heads also proposed to implement the action plan for the eradication of hunger and poverty in the parties to the PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement, and instructed the PetroCaribe Ministerial Council and the ALBA Social Council to work to expand the plan to include ALBA member states which are not members of PetroCaribe.
In the context of a historical time of changes and progress in the integration of Latin American and Caribbean peoples, the heads reaffirmed their solidarity with the “fair and historical claim” of Bolivia in relation to her sovereign right to have access to the sea, and made an appeal to the presidents and peoples of Chile and Bolivia to peacefully negotiate to arrive at a satisfactory settlement.
The heads in addition noted the plurinational State of Bolivia and the Bolivian people’s accomplishments in the fight against drug trafficking based on a sovereign policy, without the involvement of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This reflected the full observance of human rights and ‘Mother Earth’, and the rationalization of excess coca leaf crops, through self-regulation and the social control of growers, Bolivia being the country with the largest traditional consumption and, concomitantly, the smallest cultivated land in the region. They emphasized that the capacity of Bolivia in this regard, deserved imitation, and encouraged the global community to play its role in joint responsibility.