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Xinhua | 24 June 2010
(Freely translated by Anoosha Boralessa in 2015 for bilaterals.org)
10th ALBA summit starts in Ecuador
The 10th summit of the Bolivian Alliance for the Peoples of America - People’s Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) began on Friday in the Andean city of Otavalo, Ecuador.
Official sources indicated that the purpose of the meeting was to find ways of including indigenous people and people of African descent in order to apply the principles of inter-culturalism and pluri-nationalism.
The chancellors of Ecuador and Bolivia, Ricardo Patino and David Choquehuanca respectively, and the Ecuadorian minister of the People, social movements and citizens participation, Alexander Ocles, came to the inaugural meeting.
Around 300 representatives of Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Cuba, Antigua and Barbados, Dominica, San Vincent and the Grenadines assembled in working groups to reflect, debate on and issue different policies.
Ocles said that at the meeting they tried to identify common political lines with a view to building a new model for the pluri-national and inter-cultural state.
The ALBA Summit, which was focused on Indigenous people and Afro-descendants, must not be "declaratory" but must give "input/substance" for governments, added the minister responding to the use of the term "negro" at the opening of the meeting.
Ocles, who is an Afro-descendant, related his personal experience of discrimination.
"Racism is everywhere. In employment, in education and in the health system. Wherever one looks, one finds it".
He said this during an interview conducted at the sidelines of the ALBA summit that took place in the city of Otavalo.
Ocles explained that an effort will be made to ensure that this summit "will not be the way the summits usually are, simply declaratory" and the objective is "to generate tools that the authorities can apply them when they arrive in their countries."
It is something that "must have a concrete, public and political meaning" and "go through the political will of the authorities" he added.
One of the points of establishing the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of America (ALBA) relates to defending the identity of the region’s people, with particular respect and development of the indigenous and native cultures".
Within ALBA, Bolivia and Ecuador consider themselves pluri-national states. The indigenous people in Ecuador comprise 35% of a population of 14.2 million and in Bolivia the Indigenous represent 47% of a population of 10 million. By contrast, African descendants are minorities in both cases.
The main conference of the summit focused on the "Analysis of the transition of the colonial state to models of multicultural, intercultural and pluri-national states".
The meeting took place in four working groups : the exercise of inter-culturalism in public life ; the exercise of economic, political and social rights against racism and discrimination ; public initiatives to combat climate change and foreign trade between people.
It was also planned to set up a commission of indigenous and Afro-descendant authorities to develop a roadmap for various issues dealt with during the ALBA-TCP summit.
The following have confirmed their attendance at the closure of the summit which will take place tomorrow, Friday : Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia ; Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela and Rafael Correa the president of Ecuador. Confirmation is expected from representatives of other states such as Nicaragua and Cuba.
The leaders will sign the declaration that will emerge on Thursday from dialogues between delegates and indigenous and Afro-descendant authorities.
In tandem with the Summit, a food festival will take place and local manufacturers of handicraft producers will demonstrate how to make belts, hats and costume jewellery, ponchos and linen.
Ecuador, which became a member of ALBA in 2009, promotes a pluri-national state model within ALBA.