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Benefits of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA)

Periodico 26, Cuba

Benefits of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA)

By Deisy Francis Mexidor

27 June 2007

International Relations Commission members of the Cuban parliament received an update Monday on the progress of the agreements being implemented under the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which promotes social development, solidarity and mutually beneficial trade.

Marta Lomas, minister of Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation (MINVEC) explained some of the advances achieved by this economic integration process.

Lomas said that more than 650,000 patients with eye diseases from 30 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean have been benefited by Operation Miracle, thanks to the program that Cuba and Venezuela are sponsoring free of charge to the patients.

She recalled that the first agreements between Cuba and Venezuela took place on October 30, 2000 when Presidents Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez signed the Integrated Cooperation Agreement between the two nations.

Afterward, the five ALBA summits took place, with the first one in December 2004. The most recent gathering took place in April in Venezuela. Bolivia and Nicaragua joined the ALBA agreement during the third and fourth summits respectively.

Lomas underscored that new areas of cooperation have been incorporated into the ALBA. She highlighted the positive impact of the local development plans that are in progress in the municipalities of Marti, Bolivar and Sandino in western Pinar del Rio province.

The official also noted the impetus given to the literacy and health care programs in Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela. More than a million Venezuelans have learned to read and write since 2003, and nearly 24,000 Cuban doctors and other health care personnel are cooperating in the Barrio Adentro primary health care program in poor neighborhoods.

The International Relations Commission of the Cuban Parliament also condemned the United States refusal to grant visas to two Cuban legislators to attend a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Confederation of Parliaments of the Americas, held recently in California.