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Agencia Cubana de Noticias | 22 May 2012
Freely translated by Anoosha Boralessa (August 2015); not revised by bilaterals.org or any other organization or person.
Alba and the FTA: Poles Apart
Through its diversity, Latin America continues to reveal enormous cracks and counter-positions on how sovereignty should be exercised.
The region has successfully taken really positive strides such as establishing the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Yet it is no secret that Latin America must grapple with the temptations and traps that the wealthy North casts its way and which, when washed up on its shores, find receptive ears and outlooks that enable execution.
Such is the case of the recent implementation of the so-called Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Colombia. This project is integral to the neoliberal agreements that Washington is specifically using, after most of Latin America rejected the so-called Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAAs). This rejection thwarted the US’s intention to convert, en bloc, its Southern neighbours into its economic slaves.
For this new bilateral FTA is intent on renewing rifts between nations and in positioning different empires tangibly, on our patios, with the never-fading hope of establishing complete control from Rio Bravo to the Tierra del Fuego.
Moreover, it is the front line to tackle new and powerful programmes for integrating Latin America that emerged after progressive governments, committed to independence in its most absolute form, were established.
It is at once apparent that we are not talking of actions and inflictions that are complied with, without protest. In fact, Colombia reflects the protest movement before the official decision. Then, the FTA opens the doors of the country to numerous North American surpluses, many of which are officially subsidized and which will wipe out local products which do not benefit from this protection. Therefore, local products are unable to compete on equal terms with the Made in the USA shipments.
However, the FTA’s incompatibility is a dangerous and explosive and it is planted right in the heart of South America, which now has before it, alternatives. One such example is the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Alba) which is driving convergence but on totally different terms.
Alba was created under an agreement between Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez in Havana in 2004. Today, it gathers together a significant number of Latin American and Caribbean nations on terms that are the complete opposite of the asymmetric nature of trade, on which the Washington-promoted FTAs in the area, are based.
While the basis for the FTA is the law of the jungle, Alba recognizes that that its member states are at different points in their economic development. Alba stretches beyond the economic sphere to expand its benefits to essential areas such as health, education, supply and use of energy and the equitable use of shared resources in programmes that have enormous bearing for the hemisphere.
Furthermore, it is working to flesh out its own financial zone as well as a countervailing single currency for transactions between its members.
The philosophies underlying the FTA and Alba are also polar opposites. The former is based on exploiting and looting – traits of the imperial economy, while the latter emerges from solidarity and humanism, the two bases for all Alba acts, all the time.