Periodico 26, Cuba
ALBA: The Call for an "Anphictyonic" Congress of the Age
By Noelia Tiuna -AIN Special Service-
16 June 2006
Latin America is living in times of hope and changes where the longings of Simon Bolivar’s plans for integration have a new validity; but there are also dangers posed by those who are committed to the traditional subordination and ties to Washington.
On June 22, exactly 180 years ago, Simon Bolivar —"the Liberator"— convened the Anphictyonic Congress in Panama. This operated on the same premise of unifying Latin American nations which now extends across the entire continent and the Caribbean and expresses the value of the idea which could contribute to the well being of all people of Latin America and the Antilles.
If Bolivar dreamed of and proclaimed in 1826 the need to create a confederation spanning from Mexico to Chile and Argentina, later history showed that internal division and the dominating force of Washington put the countries lying to the south of the Rio Bravo in a position of dependence on the geo-political interests and domination of the US. The Venezuelan leader had foreseen the desires of emerging US imperialism at the time. Just as the fifth-columnists took advantage of his dream to become oligarchs, plantation masters and money grubbers -particularly those tied to foreign capital- history is repeating itself today through governments which have given in to the US-backed Free Trade Area for the Americas agreement (FTAA). This is a neo-colonial plan advanced precisely by those who oppose and spurn the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).
From this perspective, one can explain the rush by Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo to sign the Free Trade Treaty with the US before the end of his term in office. Likewise, outgoing Mexican President Vicente Fox is also working at the service of the US in his attacks on the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela; and they are not alone.
If the congress in Panama resulted in the beginning of the end of
integration advocated by Bolivar, present times show that new challenges are underway in countries on the path to unification - countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas marks a new dawn for this effort against which there is no shortage of enemies, principally the government of George W. Bush. The US attempted to carry out a coup to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution headed by President Hugo Chavez and is now ready to open fire on Bolivian President Evo Morales. ALBA has arrived in time to offer another perspective which is winning battles at the polls; but much more than this, it is lighting the path to confronting social debt and opening new economic perspectives. Despite those who are upset with the label "populist politics," millions of Latin
American and Caribbean people condemned to poverty, marginalization and inequality inherited from capitalism—particularly in its neo-liberal
phase— are recovering their eyesight thanks to the joint Cuba-Venezuela Operation Miracle medical campaign.
At the same time, while vision is being returned by some, others have
joined the crusade against illiteracy. That scourge has now been eradicated in Venezuela, while the barriers of ignorance are being broken down in towns in across Mexico, Nicaragua, Haiti and other nations, and efforts are now expanding to Bolivia’s indigenous community,. With the price of oil having reached unprecedented levels on the international market, the new Petro Caribe integration program is alleviating the hardship faced by non-oil-exporting countries. This is allowing them to redirect their resources for social development.
The great gas pipeline of the south, which Chavez is proposing, is
consistent with the same ideas which Latin American forefathers dreamed
of 180 years ago. There are many possibilities which offer a host of paths to different forms of cooperation between Havana, Caracas and La Paz; these are also expanding in the region. Bolivia is nationalizing its natural resources, but it is not alone in facing the transnationals, with their schemes to industrialize poverty and loot local economies. In the land where legendary guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara was assassinated, there are some 20 hospitals to be inaugurated, as more than 1,000 Cuban doctors carry out preventive medicine free of charge. Patients from St. Lucia, Dominique, St. Kitts and Nevis and other Caribbean nations come to Cuba for medical treatment and return home to enjoy a better quality of life. From those same countries, young people come to Cuba to study medicine and other careers free of charge. These are only indications of the potential of a plan which is now a reality and whose historic reference is found in Bolivar and his desire for unity in the face of a foreign power. ALBA will not be stopped; on the contrary, it is the way to become stronger and express greater solidarity in the face of a globalized world characterized by imperial domination.
ALBA is the result of the call for the Anphictyonic Congress in Panama,
the land of geographic unity which will soon celebrate the Bolivarian
endeavour to integrate the peoples of the region and re-enforce their
potential and needs.