CARACAS.— The right place and the right time. This is how the recently concluded 15th Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples' Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP) could be described.
The encounter, which took place in Caracas, Venezuela, March 5, was held at a time when the Bolivarian nation is facing increasing attacks from abroad, spearheaded by the United States, intent on destroying progressive movements across the entire region.
The message from the Summit was clear: Our America has waited 200 years for its true integration and independence and if this is to be achieved we must continue to advance along the path traveled over recent decades.
Meanwhile, President Nicolás Maduro made the most of the Summit to call for the revival of key regional organizations created in recent years, such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
The United States plans to destroy our countries and undermine the unity achieved in recent decades which put an end to years of regional fragmentation that opened the way for foreign intervention.
"These platforms express the dreams of the liberators, to unite and integrate as a single region," stated Maduro.
DEFENDING VENEZUELA MEANS DEFENDING OUR AMERICA
Bolivian President Evo Morales called for unity among the peoples and governments of Latin America in the struggle against U.S. interventionist and neoliberal policies.
In this sense, he highlighted the words of Army General Raúl Castro Ruz during his remarks at the Summit, who noted that the defense of Venezuela is the strategic and urgent task of ALBA.
Evo went on to explain that the United States wants Latin American governments to be submissive. "But we are dignified. Here we are with the people, with dignity, and with sovereignty," he noted, adding that the current generation draws hope and inspiration from the example of the historic leaders of Our America who fought against colonial rule.
"We are countries seeking equality for humanity," stated the regional leader and Bolivia's first Indigenous President.
"As President," he noted "I must continue struggling for integration. Our governments cannot be accomplices to intervention in Venezuela."
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister of Suriname, Yldiz Pollack-Beighle, stated that "Dialogue, diplomacy and bilateral commitments are the key to advancing in any field. We reiterate that our region must remain a zone of peace under any circumstance," before noting that the Venezuelan people, with Chávez's legacy as their guide, can resolve their own problems with no need for foreign agents.
ALBA: THE CREATION OF TWO GIANTS
The Summit also coincided with the fifth anniversary of the death of the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Comandante Hugo Chávez, who together with Fidel, came up with the idea for ALBA.
"We are sure that the seed planted by Fidel and Chávez has already borne fruit and will continue to multiply," stated Nicaraguan President Comandante Daniel Ortega, during his remarks at the 15th ALBA Summit.
Although some predicted that ALBA would not last, added Ortega, we can state that the work that they built continues to stand firm. "Here, we are all reaffirming the principles of peace," he said.
"Together we were able to build the solid bloc that is ALBA and which also led to the creation of CELAC," noted the Nicaraguan leader. "The creation of CELAC, would not have been possible if it weren't for ALBA-TPC."
In this same vein, Ortega explained that with Cuba's participation in the Summit of the Americas held in Panama in 2015, Latin America and the Caribbean demonstrated great maturity and that the principles enshrined in the United Nations were beginning to be respected.
"How far we have come," he stated, before criticizing recent attempts by certain governments to take away Venezuela's right to attend regional events like the upcoming Summit of the Americas, scheduled to take place mid-April in Lima, Peru.
Ortega criticized that, in doing so, these governments are interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela. "It is simply an irrational attitude," he stated.
Here we are fighting against policies that are the essence of imperialism and have been the essence of colonialism throughout history: first they occupy us to then plunder us, he stressed.
Meanwhile, the Nicaraguan President went on to recall that Fidel and Chávez practiced and promoted a policy of justice, generosity, and of helping people all over the world.
What is more, Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit highlighted the legacy of Chávez in his efforts to integrate the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, noting that this had always been the aspiration of Caribbean leaders, and an endeavor which Chávez had worked hard to achieve, emphasizing the role of ALBA and Petrocaribe in promoting greater unity among nations of the region.
Regarding the decision to rescind President Nicolás Maduro's invitation to the 8th Summit of the Americas, the Caribbean leader noted that by failing to condemn such actions, countries of the region would be undermining the legacy and leadership of Hugo Chávez.
In his remarks, Camilo Gonsalves, heading the delegation from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, referred to the situation created by the Lima group, noting that all nations must be included as expressed in the principles that led to the creation of such bodies.
Meanwhile, the opportunities to continue strengthening economic integration among the bloc were another key issue addressed during the Summit.
In this sense, President Nicolás Maduro announced that another meeting will be held in coming weeks to draw up a joint ALBA plan toward enhancing the economies of member states.
Also in attendance at the Summit was special guest and Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López Rivera, a symbol of Latin American and Caribbean resistance who spent over 30 years unjustly incarcerated in U.S. prisons. (Granma)